SC approves police action in Kejriwal's sit-in

The Supreme Court on Friday approved police action during a recent sit-in by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and with his cabinet colleagues here, saying that they acted reasonably fast in handling situation.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and Shiva Kirti Singh did not agree with the contention made by PIL petitioner advocate N Rajaramana that Delhi police failed to take preventive action, causing hardships to people during the agitation on January 20 and 21.

“In democracy, police have to respect Article 19 (right to freedom of expression) and freedom of movement as well. Have you seen the observations made by the court in Ramleela Maidan case? (wherein SC held right to sleep is a fundamental right) The right of people and obligation of states have to be balanced. They can’t be jettisoned overboard,” the bench said.

Acting on the PIL, the apex court on January 24 asked the police to explain why they allowed agitation to take place and if a sit-in was permissible when the prohibitory order was clamped under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

As Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra, representing Delhi police, submitted that the police registered first FIR on the evening of January 20 and took measures such as putting barricades around Rail Bhawan here, to contain the situation and went on to lodge another case on January 21, the court said it was satisfied with the statement.
“They (police) have acted swiftly. We will not go into sufficiency of measures and wisdom of police. They acted reasonably fast,” the bench said.

The petitioner, however, contended that the police did not act as per the guidelines submitted by Nariman committee and approved by the apex court.
The bench, however, did not like his pleading.

“You want shoot-at-sight. You have to understand the psyche of public. You can’t start severe coercive action,” the bench said.

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