Late on Wednesday evening, the Karnataka government imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in the state including in Bengaluru for three days beginning at 6am on Thursday until midnight on December 21. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of five or more people, holding of public meetings, and carrying of firearms.
Even as civil society and activists slammed the move as part of an undeclared Emergency, the Uttar Pradesh Police also promulgated prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Cr.PC in the entire state.
Legal experts have been quick to point out that the orders are illegal and should be challenged in court.
In an Instagram Post, Constitutional law expert Gautam Bhatia pointed out that prohibitory orders under the section cannot be promulgated on the basis of apprehension that public order would be disturbed. The threat, he explained, should be direct and proximate for the police to take recourse to this section.
If a violent mob is gathering with the intent to set public property on fire, he added, the police would be justified to impose section 144 and ask the mob to disperse. But the section cannot be imposed on an entire city or an entire state in the absence of such a proximate threat.
Bangalore, he added, doesn’t have a history of violent protests, at least in recent years. Therefore restrictions under section 144 fly against the fundamental right of peaceful assembly and free speech.
Law courts, experts say, have discussed the application of section 144 provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure over the years and laid down guidelines. Therefore, the imposition of restrictions on the entire state in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh is unprecedented, disproportionate and illegal.
Protests were planned across the country against the contentious CAA and NRC that the Home Minister has declared would be implemented.