Chennai, Even as Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s office on Sunday warned that anybody trying to overawe the Governor will be dealt with sternly, DMK leader M.K. Stalin said their protest against Purohit’s visits to districts will continue.
In a statement issued here, the Raj Bhavan said the Governor would continue his visits to districts in the coming months and the Office of Governor was protected under Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Any attempt to overawe or assault or use criminal force would be dealt with as per the law, it said.
Reacting to the statement, Stalin said the Governor had threatened the DMK and was also indulging in direct politics which was condemnable.
Stalin said the party would continue its protest against Purohit’s visits to districts and meeting the officials there.
The Raj Bhavan statement said: “Whoever, with the intention of inducing or compelling the President of India, or the Governor of any State, to exercise or refrain from exercising in any manner any of the lawful powers of such President or Governor, assaults or wrongfully restrains, or attempts wrongfully to restrain, or overawes, by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force, or attempts so to overawe, such President or Governor, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Referring to a news item that Stalin sought to lay siege to the area around Raj Bhavan to protest against the district visits of Purohit, the statement categorically said that “the Governor enjoys full authority and freedom to visit any part of the state”.
According to Stalin, the Governors of West Bengal or in Madhya Pradesh were not holding any review meetings at the district level.
Claiming a right that was not in existence and issuing a statement on behalf of the Governor was against the principle of federalism, he said
The Raj Bhavan statement said: “The use of the word ‘review’ by the Leader of the Opposition (Stalin) is an attempt to mislead the people. He is either ignorant of the law or attempting to overawe by threatening to besiege Raj Bhavan or block the roads leading to the Raj Bhavan.”
To this, Stalin retorted: “If calling district officials for a meeting and deliberating on their programmes was not review then what it is?”
Stalin also wondered why Raj Bhavan did not send any clarification to the media houses not to describe his meetings with district officials as “review meetings”.
The Raj Bhavan statement said Purohit, during his initial district visits, was engaged in trying to inform the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the opposing parties about the legal position by inviting them to Raj Bhavan.
“Sufficient time was given for understanding the law so as to change course and abide by it.”
As the Head of the Executive, the Governor enjoys unhindered freedom to meet and interact with officials of the state who are members of the executive wing, according to the Raj Bhavan statement.
“The Governor has to be familiar with the features, characteristics and the problems faced by people in various districts to take right decisions at critical times and also to send meaningful reports monthly to the Indian President.”
The statement added that Purohit during his district visits had not criticised any official or given any direction.
On Saturday, the DMK led by Stalin took out a procession to Raj Bhavan protesting against the arrest of party cadres in Namakkal, around 390 km from here, for showing black flags to Purohit during his visit on Friday.