Madras HC adjourns hearing of plea over Karunanidhi's burial site to 8 am

Body of DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Photo: T E Narasimhan
The Madras High Court adjourned the hearing of a plea challenging Tamil Nadu government’s denial of land at Marina beach for the former chief minister M Karunanidhi's burial to 8 am on Wednesday.

Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government had declined on Tuesday opposition DMK’s request for a burial site at Chennai’s Marina Beach for senior politician M Karunanidhi, who died in a private hospital at 94, sparking a controversy that forced a late-night court hearing after tension gripped the state. 

The decision triggered protests by DMK workers, who gathered in large numbers outside Kauvery Hospital where Karunanidhi was undergoing treatment. The state was put on alert after the five-time Chief Minister’s death due to age-related ailments. 

DMK workers broke barricades and shouted slogans against the Centre and the state government. The hashtag ‘MarinaForKalaignar’ started trending on Twitter. Responding to the state's request, the Union Home Ministry was sending 13 companies of CRPF to the state.

Karunanidhi’s son and DMK working president, M K Stalin, had written to Chief Minister K Palaniswami, seeking space inside the mausoleum complex of the departed leader’s mentor, C N Annadurai, at the Marina.

A statement from the AIADMK-led government said it was "unable to allot space at Marina beach owing to several pending cases in the Madras High Court and legal complications". The government said it was ready to allot a two-acre site on Sardar Patel Road near the memorials to Rajaji and Kamaraj.

Former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran and his charismatic protegee, J Jayalalitha, were buried at the Marina beach and their memorials were erected there. Both were bitter foes of Karunanidhi in politics.

As the DMK approached the Madras High Court over the burial site dispute, Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice SS Sundar started hearing the case around 11.45 pm. The court wanted to hear the case at 10:30 am on Wednesday, but DMK lawyers argued that a delay will have an adverse impact on law and order.

There were chaotic scenes in front of Justice Ramesh's house, where the hearing was held. Justice Sundar had to get off his car and walk into the house due to the presence of a big crowd. DMK lawyers banged the gate and quarreled with policemen for denying them entry.

Meanwhile, the state government announced a seven-day mourning for Karunanidhi. The Indian national flag would fly half-mast during this period and all government-related functions would be cancelled, Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan said.

The government declared a day’s holiday on Wednesday for Karunanidhi's final rites. His mortal remains would be kept at Rajaji Hall for VIPs and public to pay homage, she said. State honours will be accorded to Karunanidhi and the Tricolour will be draped over him, she said, adding a gun salute will also be given to the late leader.
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(With agency inputs)