Peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented in a democracy: Madras High Court

Madras High Court helda special sitting on Sunday evening to hear pleas against conduct of rallies announced by Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu against the CAA

Madras High Court (PTI)
Madras High Court (PTI)

NH Web Desk

The Madras High Court held a special sitting on Sunday evening to hear pleas brought by residents, including the founder of a forum named Indian Makkal Mandram, against the conduct of rallies announced by Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

On Sunday night, the Bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and PT Asha passed an interim order directing that any protest rallies conducted should be monitored, including by use of police drones, so that responsibility may be appropriately fixed if any violence takes place during the demonstration, reports legal news website

The interim order states: “As an interim measure, in the event of the political parties proceeding with the agitation ‘despite refusal’ there shall be an interim direction to the police in that the area, including the diverted areas as found mentioned in the pamphlet of the respondents … for which the permission for procession is sought, should be video graphed and the drone technology can also be used for the purpose of recording the demonstration so that the liability can be foisted on the leaders and not on the followers.”

Among other contentions, the petitions filed in the matter had registered protest against the public law and order problem and disturbance to public life which may ensue if the rallies were conducted.

The court heard the pleas on an urgent basis, given that the rallies are expected to be held on Monday.

Appearing for the state, government pleader Jayaprakash Narayan is reported to have informed the court that the police had not granted permission for the rallies since the organising parties had not responded to a query regarding whether they would take responsibility for the violence that may possibly follow during the protest.

In view of this, the Bench also observed that: "The evasive manner in which a responsible political party has answered the queries gives rise to a doubt in the mind of the court that the leaders, who are spearheading the agitation are reluctant to take responsibility in the event of any damage to the public property or any untoward incident."

All the same, the court has also observed that protests cannot be stifled in a democracy.

“In a democratic country, a peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented, as it is the backbone of the democratic set up,” the court observed.

The matter has been listed to be taken up again on December 30.

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