SC refuses WB BJP's plea on loudspeakers in rallies

SC refuses WB BJP's plea on loudspeakers in rallies

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a plea by the West Bengal BJP against the state government's 2013 order prohibiting use of loudspeakers during the political rallies in the month of February-March due to board examinations.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Sanjiv Khanna declined to entertain the plea advanced by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of the state BJP contending that the use of loudspeakers could be allowed during the restricted time at public places like grounds for the purpose of holding rallies.

On the court's disinclination to hear the matter, Rohatgi preferred to withdraw the application.

The top court had earlier on January 15 asked the West Bengal BJP to address apprehension of the state government and give a modified proposal to take out 'rath yatras' (march) covering 42 constituencies over a period of 20 days there.

It, however, directed the state government to permit all public meetings, rallies etc proposed to be held by the BJP at different venues, provided adequate and timely information and schedules of such programmes were furnished.

The court said the state government would consider the revised schedule of 'rath yatras' keeping in view of the fundamental right to speech and expression and the use of loudspeakers may be banned due to the CBSE and other board examinations.

“We can't say the apprehension is totally unfounded,” the bench had said as the state government relied upon intelligence reports, stating it would have an adverse impact on the law and order in 31 districts with 33% minority population.

The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, however, noted that the BJP can organise its public meetings, which, the state government maintained that were not the issue provided the party provided the names, venues and details of the people who would address the rally over there.