Recently, the Delhi High Court granted a petitioner’s request to conduct a protest at Jantar Mantar, affirming the individual’s fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(b) of the Indian Constitution. This decision came as a response to the petitioner’s challenge against the rejection of their application by the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police. The application sought permission to organize a protest at Jantar Mantar, scheduled from October 25-30, 2023, between 10:00 AM and 06:00 AM.
The rejection was primarily grounded in non-compliance with Standing Order No. L&O/48/2022, a directive outlining guidelines for protests in and around Central Vista, encompassing Jantar Mantar and Boat Club. These regulations aimed to strike a balance between facilitating public demonstrations and minimizing disruption to residents and traffic.
According to the established guidelines, protests were restricted to the hours between 10:00 AM and 05:00 PM, and organizers were limited to conducting demonstrations for a single continuous day.
Upon the High Court’s notice on November 06, 2023, a Status Report was solicited from the respondents. Alongside this report, the respondents submitted Standing Order No.L&O/48/2022, laying out the regulations for protests in these areas.
In light of the arguments presented, the High Court granted the petitioner’s plea, albeit subject to specific conditions. The petitioner was instructed to submit an application and provide an undertaking, aligning with the guidelines outlined in the Standing Order.
A date for the protest was determined following a proposal by the petitioner, in response to an offer made by the counsel representing the Delhi government. As a result, the High Court approved the petitioner’s protest to be held on December 17, 2023.
Furthermore, this case echoed a similar situation that unfolded in September, where a Division Bench led by Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Sanjeev Narula had previously entertained a comparable matter [W.P.(C) 12264/2023]. In this instance, a PIL was filed by the President of the National South Indian Rivers Interlinking Farmers Association, contesting the denial of permission for a protest at Jantar Mantar, lacking any explanation.
During these earlier proceedings, the counsel representing the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi referred to Standing Order No.L&O/48/2022, Issued on April 28, 2023. The counsel conceded that the petitioner could file a fresh representation adhering to the Standing Order for reconsideration, following the stipulated guidelines.
The court’s decision in favor of permitting the protest at JantarMantar upholds an individual’s right to assembly and peaceful protest, essential elements of a democratic society. Such rulings play a crucial role in ensuring the protection and exercise of constitutional freedoms while balancing them with the need for public order and safety.
The legal validation of the right to protest at specified locations within designated time frames represents a significant facet of judicial scrutiny in upholding citizens’ rights. It underscores the importance of establishing clear and reasonable guidelines for protests in public spaces to guarantee the expression of dissent while preventing undue disruptions to the general public and essential services.
This case, and similar hearings, showcase the judiciary’s vigilant efforts to safeguard constitutional liberties while upholding the rule of law. By providing a legal framework to manage protests, courts strike a delicate balance between allowing citizens to voice dissent and ensuring the maintenance of public order.
Such judicial interventions also serve as a reminder to administrative authorities to align their decisions with constitutional guarantees, enabling citizens to exercise their rights without undue hindrance, thereby upholding the essence of democracy.
This landmark ruling by the Delhi High Court stands as a testament to the judiciary’s commitment to safeguarding fundamental rights while ensuring peace and order in society.
This brings the comprehensive news article to a conclusion, encapsulating the recent Delhi High Court ruling that affirmed an individual’s right to conduct a peaceful protest at JantarMantar.