Is the ban on holding of protests at Parliament Street and Jantar Mantar illegal? The Delhi High Court has decided to examine this issue.
The court on Monday issued notice to Centre and Delhi Government on a public interest litigation challenging the prohibitory orders and continuous imposition of section 144 Criminal Procedure Code (ban on unlawful assembly) in these areas since four years. They have to to file their replies by August 25.
A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan was hearing a PIL filed by Banoo Bee, an activist associated with an organisation working for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.
She approached the court after the police refused to allow her to hold a protest march in support of victims of the gas tragedy in July.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for her, contended that the police have been invoking section 144 (unlawful assembly) for many years in perpetuity which is illegal.
"Right to protest is a fundamental right and it cannot be banned. At the most, there can be some reasonable restrictions on holding protest. New Delhi, being the centre of power, is the most appropriate place to hold protest and the government cannot put a blanket ban on it," the advocate said in its petition.
They are also demanding a designated area where protests can be held unhindered. Section 144 of the CrPC empowers a Magistrate to issue prohibitory order to prevent breach of peace.