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[CAA Protests] 'Section 144 Order Imposed In Bengaluru In December Illegal' : Karnataka HC [Read Judgment]

Mustafa Plumber
13 Feb 2020 11:10 AM GMT
[CAA Protests]
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The prohibitory orders imposed in Bengaluru under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on December 18 in view of CAA Protest are "illegal" and "cannot stand scrutiny of law", held the High Court of Karnataka on Thursday.

But the bench headed by CJ A S Oka refused to set aside the order, noting that the same has "worked itself out". Thus, the Court allowed the petitions filed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda, Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy and some city residents in part.

The Court referred to the Supreme Court decisions in Anuradha Bhasin case and In Re Ramlila Maidan incident to reach its conclusions. 

The case concerned the legality of order passed under section 144, by the Bengaluru Police Commmssioner on December 18 banning all public rallies, which were to be held on December 19, against the Citizenship Amendment Act, in Bengaluru.

The bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur while hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the order had observed;
"We are not concerned with the subject of the protests, our concern is about decision making process which undoubtedly curtails the fundamental rights. It is indeed a preventive measure. The preventive measure has effect of curtailing fundamental rights of citizens. Prima facie, the formation of opinion is not reflected in the order. Therefore these petitions be taken up for hearing at preliminary stage. Issue whether permission granted can be revoked by passing order under section 144 and that also without giving pre-post decision hearing will have to be gone into."

In an earlier hearing, Justice Oka had observed "Are you (state) going to ban each and every protest. How can you cancel permission granted following process by passing a speaking order."

The bench had also questioned the state by saying that "As far as law is concerned you cannot prohibit peaceful protest. Can state proceed on the assumption that every protest will be violent."

Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi had submitted that  "State is a custodian of Fundamental rights. If situation warrants duty is of the state to take preventive measures to maintain law and order. The police commissioner based on intelligence inputs from different quarters and after he was satisfied that such order was necessary as possibility of anti social elements participating in the peaceful protest. This extreme measures was taken."
He also argued that "Section 144 is an exception to general powers vested in the police. Intelligence reports strongly indicated these protest could turn into law and order situation. Uncontrollable situation has taken place in Mangaluru, where two people have died. Reports were also there that people from Kerala have infiltrated into the state. What is the final concern of the state is safety of public property. The Chief Minister has held meeting with members of the Muslim and Christian Community and also appealed to citizens to maintain peace."
Senior advocate, Ravi Verma Kumar appearing for one of the petitioner, Leo Saldanha and others, had argued that "The order passed is arbitrary and ex-facie illegal as there is no formation of opinion. Police can only regulate the rallies/dharnas or processions they cannot prohibit protest, it is a Fundamental Right of Citizen, guaranteed under article 19 of the Constitution of India."
Read Judgment Here

 

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