HC notice to Delhi Police on MLAs’ plea for nod to protest outside homes of Shah, Baijal
The Delhi high court on Friday issued a notice to the city police on the pleas filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs Raghav Chadha and Atishi against the denial of permission by the department to protest outside the residences of Union home minister Amit Shah and Delhi lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal.
The two AAP MLAs had moved the court on Thursday after they were denied permission by Delhi Police to stage a sit-in protest against the alleged misappropriation of over ₹2,500 crore by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Chadha and Atishi were among four leaders who were detained on December 13 after they tried to stage a protest outside Shah’s residence.
Advocate Gautam Narayan, appearing for the Delhi Police, argued that by an order of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) of September 30, all political activities are banned in the national capital. This order has been extended till December 31, he said.
Responding to this, the counsels for the MLAs said they wanted to hold a peaceful protest with limited number of people for a limited period of time, without any tents or loudspeakers.
On the argument by Narayan that Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan are the two designated protest sites in the city, one of the opposing counsels said, “the place where farmers are protesting is also not a designated place of protest”, referring to the blockade effected by farmers at Delhi’s border points of Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla since November 27, demanding the repeal of three farm laws.
The farmers’ protest has emerged as yet another flashpoint between the BJP, which is in power at the Centre, and the AAP, with the Arvind Kejriwal-led government extending its support to the agitation. At a special session of the Delhi assembly on Thursday, Kejriwal and AAP MLAs had torn copies of the three new laws.
Narayan also said that according to a Supreme Court ruling, no dharnas (sit-ins) or demonstration would be allowed in a residential area and can be conducted only at designated spaces such as the Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar.
“We will respond to the high court notice. Since the matter pertains to the court, nothing much can be said on it,” said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named
On Thursday, the court had suggested that the MLAs be allowed to hold the protest outside the residences of Shah and Baijal, provided that they give an undertaking.
The two AAP legislators had sought that necessary arrangements to be made for the protest outside Shah’s house, along the lines of what has been permitted outside the residence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, where the three mayors of Delhi have been sitting on a protest for the past 10 days, demanding that the Delhi government release funds to the BJP-led municipal bodies.
The plea also said the right to protest constituted a fundamental pillar of democracy and embodies the exercise of a number of indivisible, interdependent and interconnected human rights, in particular the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, and the right to freedom of thought.
The matter would be now heard on January 14.