The Delhi high court, with significant remarks that might once again pave way for public protests in high-risk central Delhi that houses country's power centre, has hinted at quashing the "permanent prohibitory orders" in the area.
The bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra was hearing a public interest litigation challenging Delhi Police's prohibitory order in central Delhi including in the once famous Boat Club.
At present, for security reasons, there is a complete ban on protests in the area housing Parliament House, North Block, South Block, and India Gate. Peaceful protests and demonstrations are only permitted at Jantar Mantar and barricaded parts of Parliament Street and that, too, with prior permission of Delhi Police.
Continuous prohibitory orders stood imposed in the area under Section 144 of the criminal procedure code.
Since the ban on rallies at the famed Boat Club, adjacent to India Gate, was imposed two decades ago, most political rallies and protests are now held at Ramlila Grounds.
High court agreed to lawyer Prashant Bhushan's argument based on three Supreme Court judgments which said that Section 144 could only be used in "an emergency-like situation and not continuously, routinely and repeatedly".
The court told chief government counsel Najmi Waziri: "Since nine months we have been asking you to come up with suggestions and find some way out of it. You cannot impose prohibitory orders in a particular area continuously and it has to be on a case to case basis."
Defending the government's decision, Waziri said: "An area like high-security central Delhi never figured in the three Supreme Court judgments. It is an area under siege every day. We have to guard institutions like Parliament, Rashrapathi Bhavan, North Block, South Block and Supreme Court, so such kinds of protests cannot be allowed in the whole area."
The court after hearing both sides is set to deliver a judgment on May 31.