Declining to interfere with Mewat administration’s decision to impose Section 144 in the district for a period of two months in wake of nationwide protests against the new citizenship law, Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday said the order appears to have been passed in public interest after an assessment of the situation by authorities, adding the court is “nobody to assess the situation”.
The observations were made by the division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli before dismissing the petition filed by a lawyer against imposition of Section 144 in the district. The PIL filed by advocate Mohammad Arshad contended the Mewat Additional District Magistrate has passed the order without identifying any imminent threat to public order and it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 as it makes any gathering an offence in the district.
While questioning the petitioner as to how any fundamental rights have been violated by the Section 144 order and declining to look into validity of it, the court observed, “Today we quash this and something untoward happens, are you going to reimburse…”. Arshad submitted that the order has been passed only on the basis of an apprehension and it virtually prohibits any kind of protest.
In the petition, Arshad argued that the orders passed by authorities should not be allowed to go unquestioned if they are beyond their legitimate powers. “Regardless of protest, the impugned order makes even a social gathering in a public place in district Nuh (Mewat) an offence and thus the order is manifestly arbitrary and discriminatory,” read the petition.
The order passed by Additional District Magistrate on December 25 mentioned that “there is likelihood of causing tension, annoyance, obstruction or injury to person(s) lawfully employed or risk danger to human life and property, disturbance of public peace and tranquility within the limits of District Nuh in view of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) passed by both houses of Parliament in the winter session”.
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