Holding protest acceptable but not at particular place

Holding protest acceptable but not at particular place

The Supreme Court on Monday said that holding protests is an accepted right of the people, but nobody can claim the right to hold a demonstration at a particular place.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to frame guidelines within two months for regulating protests, while lifting a blanket ban on rallies, dharnas and sit-ins at Jantar Mantar and Boat Club here.

“There cannot be a complete or absolute ban on holding protests at places like Jantar Mantar and Boat Club (near India Gate),” the bench said.

The court passed its judgement on a batch of petitions, including one filed by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, an NGO, challenging the decision of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to ban all kinds of protests at Jantar Mantar and Boat Club.

The court said authorities may permit processions and demonstrations which are innocuous by their very nature like school children taking out a procession to advance some social cause or a candlelight march by  peace loving group of persons against a social evil or tragic incident.

Peg on numbers

The proposed guidelines may include provisions for regulating the numbers of persons intending to participate in such demonstrations, besides prescribing the minimum distance from Parliament House, North and South Blocks, Supreme Court, residences of dignitaries etc., it said.