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There Can't be Blanket Ban, Balance it With Right to Protest, Says SC as it Allows Voices at Jantar Mantar

The judge told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Delhi Police and the Central government, that the police will have to lay down guidelines in two weeks.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 23, 2018, 11:08 AM IST
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There Can't be Blanket Ban, Balance it With Right to Protest, Says SC as it Allows Voices at Jantar Mantar
The Supreme Court of India. (News18 Creative)
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday lifted the ban on protests at Jantar Mantar, India Gate and in other parts of Central Delhi.

"There cannot be a blanket ban. We agree that this is a sensitive area but it has to be balanced with the right to protest," said Justice AK Sikri, reading out the operative part of the order.

The judge told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Delhi Police and the Central government, that the police will have to lay down guidelines in two weeks.

"We have asked the Delhi Police Commissioner to frame guidelines and then allow the protests once the conditions are met. But we make it clear that there cannot be a complete ban," said Justice Sikri.

After an order of the National Green Tribunal in October 2017, all protests at Jantar Mantar had been prohibited.

In a batch of petitions, the NGT order as well as the Delhi Police order stopping protests in Central Delhi under Section 144 CrPC had been challenged.

The petitions, argued by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had pointed out that these prohibitory orders were against the fundamental right to protest in the Lutyens’ Delhi, the virtual seat of all power in the country.

The petitions claimed that this right could only be effectively exercised only when citizens are permitted to protest at a place from where their protest will actually be more visible, i.e., near the seat of power.

“With a ban on protest in the entire central Delhi area, and a further ban on protests at Jantar Mantar following the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order, citizens are being pushed away from places where their protests had more visibility considering the proximity of venues for protest in Central Delhi, to Parliament and other government," said the plea.

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