Jantar Mantar, a popular protest site in Delhi, has come under challenge by residents of the area who say that due to frequent demonstrations and noise, people living nearby are finding it hard to move in and out of their buildings.
“What is the difficulty in shifting this protest site to Ramlila Maidan?” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra asked the government.
This come just two days after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had pulled up the Delhi government for not exploring alternative sites to Jantar Mantar after a plea said massive noise pollution was caused due to the frequent agitations.
The high court directed the government and city police to explain in a map the exact location at Jantar Mantar where protests are allowed. It asked the police to submit details of protest taking place, including the kind of permission needed to do it.
“Show us in a map, where you permit (to protest) and (also) what you permit,” the bench said.
The petition claimed that police was permitting protest in public street between Tolstoy Marg and Ashoka Road. It further claimed that due to the volume and frequency of protest in the area, the road is obstructed everyday.
It alleged that even emergency vehicles such as amublances and fire brigades face obstruction due to the presence of a large number of protesters.
The Delhi police, however, told the court that it has made arrangement at the protest site, including deployment of adequate staff to ensure that entry and exit of people are not blocked. It said protests at Jantar Mandar are permitted only after taking into account the number of people joining the protest.
To this, the court asked if police keep a check on the number of protesters who turn up to protest.
Previously, the police had in an affadavit filed in the case said that, “In the past, demonstrations were permitted at Boat Club Lawns but due to rise in the number of people gathering, it was found that it was causing traffic problems”.
“Thus the venue was shifted to Jantar Mantar where demonstrations could be held. In the case of large demonstration of more than 8000 people, it was decided to be permitted in Ramlila Maidan,” it had added.