Guj HC sends notice to govt on plea against Section 144

Guj HC sends notice to govt on plea against Section 144

The petition stated that the prohibitory order under Section 144 and Section 37 of Gujarat Police Act,1951 are issued in "routine course of manner and in identically worded text."

The Gujarat High Court Thursday issued notice to the state government on a petition moved by five well-known citizens including two professors from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad who have challenged continuous imposition of Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in the city that makes assembly of more than five persons without prior permission unlawful.

Issuing the notice, justice S H Vora pulled up the government for passing such repeated orders and not following any procedure that includes publicity of such orders for public information. The court also opined that existence of such orders scare people to stand at paan shop in groups. Justice Vora said that reasons for the imposition and its timely publicity are very important so that people are aware.

Last week, IIM-A professor Navdeep Mathur, his colleague Ankur Sarin, Ahmedabad University professor Raghavan Rangarajan and two entrepreneurs Sanjiv Shah and Archana Shah filed the petition.

The petition stated that the prohibitory order under Section 144 and Section 37 of Gujarat Police Act,1951 are issued in "routine course of manner and in identically worded text."

Through this routine imposition of prohibitory orders police bar people from various actions that include "utterances of cries, singing songs, playing music, delivery of harangues, the use of gestures or mimetic representations, and the preparation, exhibition or dissemination of pictures, symbols, placards."

The petitioners have argued that under Section 144, no order remains valid for more than two months and under Gujarat police act no such prohibition remains in force after 15 days without the sanction of the government. They have argued that these orders are passed by police commissioner instead of district magistrate or any executive magistrate who is empowered by the state government to do so.

The petition was filed in wake of protest against Citizenship Amendment Act by hundreds of activists, students and academicians who were detained by the police on the ground of not having permission mandated under Section 144. In the court, state government defended that they publicise these prohibitory orders and 107 times permission was given to protest. The court asked the government to file an affidavit with details of their action.

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