Traffic Ramaswamy

Traffic Ramaswamy

‘No more’ PILs from Traffic Ramaswamy at Madras High Court

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Traffic Ramaswamy was a familiar figure at the Madras High Court, often spotted clad in his trademark white shirt and khaki trousers, darting between courts, his Personal Security Officer in tow.

Traffic Ramaswamy
Traffic Ramaswamy

CHENNAI: Prakasam Salai road in the buzzling Parry’s locality that housed the office cum residence of Traffic Ramaswamy will no longer be the same after the passing of the social activist at age 87. The High Court premises neighbouring his office was a frequent visiting point for Ramaswamy.

Traffic Ramaswamy was a familiar figure at the Madras High Court, often spotted clad in his trademark white shirt and khaki trousers, darting between courts, his Personal Security Officer in tow.

S Ganesan, a long time associate and advocate for the hundreds of Public Interest Litigation petitions filed by the crusader since the early 2000s, recalled the 2002 incident that spurred Ramaswamy to regularly file cases of public interest.

“He had filed a PIL to regulate fish carts and a section of fish cart owners beat him up and left him bleeding on the road. The then Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Subhashan Reddy in 2003 provided him with a personal security officer,” he emphasised.

Since then there has been no turning back for the activist who took up several cases of public interest in Chennai.

Ganesan recalls that there was an instance where Ramaswamy attended the wedding of a close friend’s son, however, the moment he saw posters outside on the road leading towards the marriage hall, he left the place without attending the function. He later called up his friend and informed him that the posters were erected illegally and that it was a violation.

“Nothing bogged down the activist, even the several contempt charges he had faced in court,” says Ganesan.

In 2014, Ramaswamy was imposed with a Rs 25,000 fine by a division bench of the Madras High Court for filing a vague PIL stating that party functionaries who swore allegiance to criminals cannot form the government.

On most of the occasions, Ramaswamy’s PILs were dismissed by the court which found them vague.

However, the octogenarian kept filing them, with the most recent one being a PIL filed against the use of unregistered battery-run cars by the Chennai corporation for collecting garbage.

Following the court direction, all the vehicles were then registered and brought under the Regional Transport Authority for compliance.

Just in the last week of April, the Madras High Court ordered the Chennai corporation to file a report on GNT road encroachments after a PIL by Ramaswamy. Unfortunately the activist will no longer be a witness to its proceedings.


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