As the Allahabad High Court on Thursday banned caste-based political rallies in Uttar Pradesh, legal experts were not convinced as to the ground of such an order affecting fundamental right to assemble peacefully and without arms.
“Unless the activity amounts to an offence, it will be deemed to be legitimate under Article 19. So unless there is a ground that the activity the rally is for promoting enmity between different groups, there can be no restriction for members of a caste to assemble of their own free will,” said senior counsel KTS Tulsi.
“If the rally is otherwise legal and there is no prohibition for rally, the caste alone cannot be a ground for banning a rally as it would be violative of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (b) of the Constitution,” former additional solicitor general and senior counsel Vikas Singh said.
“You can’t ban a rally unless its object is something illegal or the participants harm somebody or do something illegal,” Singh added.
Tulsi Said, “I can’t imagine that a mere assembly of a particular caste can ever be considered prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
“It may be the personal opinion of the writ petitioner that it causes damage to social harmony, but for that he ought to have approached the executive authorities. If there is no specific allegation as to how any of the assemblies of any caste had promoted enmity, there would be no legitimate basis for a sweeping order of this kind,” Tulsi added.