The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government not to force school children to attend the state-sponsored birth centenary functions of ruling AIADMK founder late MG Ramachandran. A division bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and R Subramanian passed the interim order on a PIL by NGO Change India represented by its director A Narayananan.

The bench directed the state chief secretary, school education secretary and director general of police not take the children to any event organised as part of the birth centenary celebrations of the late chief minister. Referring to a recent media report, the petitioner said students of several government and private schools in Kanchipuram district were allegedly forced to attend the centenary celebrations of the late AIADMK leader, near here on the instruction of the government.

Later in the day, the Tamil Nadu government filed a counter affidavit in the high court. The government said it would conduct a motivational training programme to help children handle mental pressure, on the morning of September 30 in Salem, and the MGR centenary celebrations are scheduled for that evening.

The September 30 programme, involving Live Life Education Foundation, is just a measure to motivate government school students to attain good standards for their benefit, it said.

It will be organised in the morning and the centenary celebrations are scheduled for the evening, the government said. "Moreover, the programme is not compulsory. Students participate voluntarily. Hence it is just and necessary to vacate the interim order," the school education department's deputy secretary, P Sekar, said in the affidavit.

The government demanded a special sitting on Thursday as the court would be closed for Dussehra holidays from Friday.

Meanwhile, Stalin has welcomed the decision of the court not to force school children to come for the birth centenary of MGR. He alleged that such functions were a waste of tax payers money and all that is done is talk ill about DMK and the party members. He alleged that OPS and EPS are using this as a platform to gain mileage and are just wasting the time of students who are made to come from far and are subject to inconvenience. 

Previously, there have been many instances where children were made to line up and subject to standing for long hours over the centenary celebrations. 

with PTI inputs