Tripura High Court did not allow Petitioners to organise Protest Rally
The Tripura High Court dismissed a writ petition seeking to organise a protest rally by finding that interference with the policy decision was unwarranted
A Single Judge Court of Justice Arindam Lodh of the High Court of Tripura dealt with this matter titled All India Trinamool Congress & Another v. The State of Tripura & Ors.
The Petitioners through this writ petition had sought a direction from this Court to organize a protest rally on 22 September, 2021 protesting against the terrible attacks and inhuman vandalism inflicted on media houses.
A prohibitory order dated 20 September, 2021 was placed by the Respondent – Authorities which prohibited all meetings, processions, public gatherings by any political party in Sadar Police Sub-division with effect from the am (morning) of 21 September, 2021 till midnight of 4 November, 2021. The said order was issued u/S. 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) ordering that any person violating these prohibitory measures would be liable to be prosecuted under the provisions of Section-188 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC) and as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The Petitioners submitted that the government had actuated with malice by issuing a prohibitory order dated 20 September, 2021 as it was aimed only to restrain them from organizing any rally in the city of Agartala. The Petitioners further requested an opportunity to submit representation to the authority concerned for granting permission to organize the protest rally on any future date. Regarding this request, the Court stated that a Court's order was not necessary for such purpose and that they had the liberty to pursue the said cause before the appropriate authority.
The Court perused the prohibitory order dated 20 September, 2021 and found that the government had considered various aspects ranging from the eve of Durga puja, third wave of Covid-19 to the deterioration of the law and order situation if any procession, meetings or public gatherings were permitted.
The judge opined that it was a policy decision and that the Court could not invade the power vested upon the legislatures as well as the executives unless and until a fundamental right was breached. Regarding this, it further observed:
"It is entirely upon the government to decide the measures and steps to be taken to maintain law and order in the State and precautionary measures to be adopted on the eve of the threat of the 3rd wave of Covid-19. The Court should not substitute its own judgment for the judgment of the executive in such matters."
The Court agreed that organizing a peaceful rally was a fundamental right as enshrined under Article-19(1)(a)(b) of the Constitution of India. However, it noted that the law imposed reasonable restrictions on it by stating the following:
"In view of this, the State legislature or its executives can impose all reasonable restrictions to achieve certain objects and in the case in hand, the object, the executives intended to achieve is to prevent breach of peace (law and order) in and around the city of Agartala i.e. in the Sadar sub-division and also to take precautionary measures to prevent the deadly corona virus in the crowded city of Agartala"
The Court also perused Section 144 of CrPC and observed that it gave power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger.
Thus, the Court found interference with the policy decision as indicated in the prohibitory order as unwarranted and therefore, dismissed the writ petition.