The Delhi High Court on Wednesday slammed the Delhi Police for the manner in which prohibitory orders were clamped around India Gate and Rajpath area during the recent protests.
It also criticised the police for curbing the fundamental rights of people without ascertaining if such an emergency situation existed.
"Just like that, you cannot impose prohibitory orders under Section 144 because it loses sanctity. Right to movement, speech and expression is involved. There are other ways also which can be used to maintain law and order," a bench headed by chief justice D Murugesan told additional solicitor general Siddharth Luthra, who was appearing for the police.
The court was of the prima facie view that the police did not follow proper procedure as public notice was not issued before clamping the prohibitory orders.
"Strictly speaking, you have not followed the procedure. Where is the proclamation?" The court said it would strictly look into whether imposition of Section 144 of CrPc was required during the recent protests.
The court's remarks came while it reserved orders on a PIL filed by lawyer Anand Mishra, challenging the imposition of prohibitory orders around India Gate and Rajpath on December 22, ahead of the recent protests against the gangrape on a moving bus.
The Delhi Police informed the court that prohibitory orders had been clamped in the area afresh on December 30 and would be valid till January 14.
The PIL alleged that "Section 144 was being misused to clamp down on popular agitation and aimed at legitimising use of force against the public under the garb of maintaining law and order".
Mishra had also argued that Section 144 can only be imposed in emergency situations and after issuing a public notice.
"The whole Capital was traumatised over the gangrape and thousands of students and others who did not feel safe came to join the social movement. This provision cannot be used to curtail the constitutional rights," he said.