15 Jan 2023 2:58 PM GMT
The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently suspended operation of an order passed by the state government prohibiting the conducting of the public meetings on public roads."Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and on careful consideration of the submissions made by respective counsels and also on perusal of the case law placed by the respective counsels before the Court, in the...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently suspended operation of an order passed by the state government prohibiting the conducting of the public meetings on public roads.
"Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and on careful consideration of the submissions made by respective counsels and also on perusal of the case law placed by the respective counsels before the Court, in the prima facie opinion of this Court, the impugned G.O. Rt. No.1 dated 02.01.2023 is contrary to the procedure provided under Section 30 of the Police Act, 1861," the division bench of Justice Battu Devanand and Justice Dr V R K Krupa Sagar said.
There shall be interim suspension of impugned government order dated January 02 till January 23, said the court.
The government order was issued by the State's home department. Advocate General S. Sriram earlier argued before the court that the government order has been issued in exercise of powers vested under Section 3 of the Police Act, 1861 to regulate the public meeting on the public roads in the interest of the public, "in the light of the recent instances" that occurred in the state.
The order for interim suspension of the government order was passed by the court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which termed the State decision arbitrary and violative of Article 19(1)(a), 19(1)(b) of the Constitution.
Kaka Ramakrishna, the petitioner, is a leader of Communist Party of India. The 67-year-old has alleged in the petition that the government has "indirectly imposed a complete ban" on public meetings on public roads to stifle the voice of opposition and other political parties..
The Andhra Pradesh government in the order passed on January 2 banned public meetings and rallies from being held on public roads & streets, state and national highways, except in rare circumstances. The order was purportedly passed in the wake of a fatal incident involving loss of eight lives in a political meeting held on roadside at Kandukuru, Nellore District on 28.12.2022.
The government in its prohibitory order stated that “in exercise of powers under Section 3 of the Police Act, 1861, Government opine that the respective Authorities under Section 30 of the Act, while considering any applications for conduct of public meetings on public roads and streets, duly bear in mind the possibility of recurrence of the events as have transpired in Kandukuru and regulate the grant of license under Section 30 of the Act with due regards for public safety.”
The State has asked police machinery to suggest alternative locations away from public roads which do not hamper public movement and general flow of traffic.
The restrictions that have been specified in the Order are:
- “National Highways and State Highways are designed for high speed connectivity across the country to ensure logistical integration. It is therefore ideal that no license be granted for any application seeking permission to conduct a meeting on State Highways and National Highways…However, in rare and exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded in writing, any application could be considered.”
- “Municipal roads and Panchayat roads are narrow and are meant for free movement of the people staying in the local area and any obstruction due to meetings on these roads endangers lives, disrupts the civic life, emergency services, causing inconvenience to the general public.”
Ramakrishna has contended that the provisions under Police Act, 1861 are only a regulatory power and not a blanket power to stifle the democratic ideals and views of the citizens. The law enables the authorities to control the conduct of assemblies and processions on public roads and not to completely ban it, he has argued.
The court has posted the matter for hearing on January 20.
Case Title: Kaka Ramakrishna v. State of AP, Home Department
Case Number: W.P.(PIL) NO: 5 OF 2023
Date Of Order: 12-01-2023
Click Here To Read/Download Order