Madras HC Permits Public Conference Against CAA-NRC-NPR [Read Order]

By - Akshita Saxena
Update: 2020-02-21 13:50 GMT
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The Madras High Court has permitted 'Makkal Athikaram', a social organization to conduct a public conference titled "Withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens-National Population Register, which destroy the Secularism and Basic Structure of the Constitution of India" on the eve of Sunday, i.e. February 23, at the Thenur Ulavar Santhai Corporation Ground, Trichy.

Petitioner L.Cheziyan, Regional Coordinator of Makkal Athikaram, had approached the high court after the state authorities denied him permission to hold the said conference, citing law and order situation.

Quashing the state's order, Justice AD Jagadish Chandira has granted them permission to hold the conference in exchange for ensuring that no law and order problem is created in the course of conducting the meeting.

The court has also imposed the below mentioned conditions to be followed during the conference:

  1. Strict observation of restrictions imposed on the right to speech and expression under Article 19(2) of the Constitution (Speaker's to ensure that they do not hurt any religious sentiments/ political/ caste communal parties or affect the sovereignty of India or affect the peace and harmony in the society);
  2. No cartoon/ any form of visual depiction, that may hurt the Religious Sentiments of any Religious group will be used during the conference;
  3. The organizer will ensure that there is no hindrance to the traffic and that the general public is not disturbed due to loudspeakers;
  4. If there is any stage to be installed, a structural stability certificate should be obtained from Public Works Department;
  5. Organizers will not erect any digital banners/placards on either side of the arterial roads, platforms, walkways/major roads and any other roads;
  6. If the meeting is stopped or changed by the respondent Police for any urgency, the organizers shall co-operate with the respondent Police.

The state authorities had argued that the Petitioner's organization has misused such permissions on earlier occasions, posing threat to public order. The state further apprehended that the petitioner will display cartoons and caricatures that will affect the religious sentiment of other religious groups.

Last year, a similar case came up before the high court whereby the Petitioner organization had sought permission to hold a conference titled "Repression Is Democracy".

Thereby, while granting them the permission to hold the conference, the high court had highlighted the correlation between rights and duties, in the following words,

"If the Constitutionalism has to survive in this country, then it is not just the responsibility of the State but that of everyone of its constituent citizens to carry its spirit in their hearts and souls… It might be that Article 19(2) of the Constitution has empowered the State to make laws to impose reasonable restrictions on the fundamental right to free speech, yet personal responsibility expected of a citizen that he will exercise it within reasonable bounds goes with the very right, even if one were to presume that Article 19(2) does not exist."

Case Details:

Case Title: L.Cheziyan @ Sakthive v. Comm. Of Police & Ors.

Case No.: WP (MD) No. 2386/2020

Quorum: Justice AD Jagadish Chandira

Appearance: Advocate A. John Vincent for Advocate S. Vanchinathan (For Petitioner); Government Advocate S. Bharathi (For Respondents)

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