Supreme Court cautions police, stir organisers

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 17:37 hrs

New Delhi:The Supreme Court Thursday said that the law enforcing agencies should give reasonable notice and time to organisers of agitations to comply with their orders, while the protestors too have the duty to maintain order.

The directions issued by the apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Swatanter Kumar said "except in cases of emergency or the situation unexceptionably demanding so, reasonable notice or time for execution of the order or compliance with the directions issued in the order itself or in furtherance thereto is the pre-requisite".

The court said this in its judgment on the police action on the night of June 4-5 last year at the Ramlila ground to disperse the followers of yoga guru Baba Ramdev who were holding a yoga camp-cum anti-corruption protest. The apex court had taken suo motu notice of the police action.

The court said it was evident that it was not a case of emergency. The police failed to establish that a situation had arisen where there was imminent need to intervene, having regard to the "sensitivity and perniciously perilous consequences that could have resulted, if such harsh measures had not been taken forthwith".

The directions issued by Justice Kumar and concurred by Justice Chauhan said: "It was primarily an error of performance of duty both by police and Baba Ramdev but the ultimate sufferer was the public at large."

"In discharge of its judicial functions, the courts do not strike down the law or quash the state the name of preserving democratic process, but as a contribution to the governmental system, to make it fair, judicious and transparent," the court said.

Having laid the guidelines under which police could act in dealing with the agitations, the court said: "It is neither correct nor judicially permissible to say that taking of police permission for holding of dharnas, processions and rallies of the present kind is irrelevant or not required in law."

Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the requirement of associating police while holding large scale meetings, dharnas and protests, would not infringe the fundamental rights enshrined under Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(b) of constitution dealing with right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

"Such consent should be considered in a very objective manner by the police authorities to ensure the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression as understood in its wider connotation, rather than use the power to frustrate or throttle the constitutional right," said the court

The court held that Baba Ramdev and all its representatives were bound by the constitutional and fundamental dutyto safeguard public property and to abjure violence.

There was legal and moral duty cast upon the members of the Ramdev's trust to request and persuade people to leave the Ramlila ground which could have obviously avoided the confrontation between police and the members of the gathering at the Ramlila ground, the court said.

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