New Delhi : Observing that it is important to frame guidelines on the right to protest so as to ensure that the fundamental right of citizens to protest is balanced with avoiding any inconvenience that may be caused, the Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre and the Delhi police on a PIL from farmers’association challenging the ban on holding meetings, protests and demonstrations in the capital.
A bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued notice on the petition filed by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan, challenging the ban imposed by the Delhi police under Section 144 Cr.P.C. In view of the imposition of ban on meetings, dharnas, peaceful demonstrations, etc., hitherto permitted at Jantar Mantar and in various parts of Delhi have been completely prohibited.
Counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner submitted that the blanket ban order has violated the rights of the citizens to resort to peaceful protest. He said the court must frame guidelines for holding such meetings.
The petitioner said it was challenging the arbitrary and repeated imposition of police orders under Sec. 144 of the CrPC banning protests in the entire Central Delhi area. This infringes the fundamental right to peaceful assembly and citizens right to protest. It sought a declaration that imposing a blanket ban on all assemblies in Central Delhi/New Delhi area as illegal and to declare that repeated promulgation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC as illegal.
The petitioner said the right to peaceful assembly is a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (b) of the Constitution and is a crucial right for citizens to express their opinion in a democratic State.