Order reserved on plea against restrictions near India Gate

The Delhi High Court Wednesday reserved its order on a petition challenging the imposition of curbs on gathering of people around India Gate during protests over the gang-rape and death of a woman here last month. A division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain observed that ‘there are rights to movement and speech and expression, Section 144 of the CrPC cannot be used just like that...otherwise it would lead to loss of the sanctity’.

The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Anand K Mishra, challenging the decision to impose Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) prohibiting any assembly of five or more people around the India Gate, the popular site for protests. Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Delhi Police, justified the imposition of restrictions on the assembly of five or more people. Luthra said the guidelines for imposition of the prohibitory orders could not be framed. Mishra’s counsel said, ‘The whole capital was traumatised over the gang-rape and thousands of girl students, who do not feel safe, and others came to join the social movement. It was not a political movement. The section 144 cannot be used to curtail the constitutional rights.’

In the petition against the union home ministry, the Delhi government and police, Mishra sought a direction from the court declaring the 22 December decision to impose the restrictions as ‘unconstitutional and illegal’.

The plea said there were ‘unreasonable restrictions’ on peaceful assembly and movement of public.
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