The Gujarat High Court on Thursday issued notice to the city police commissioner and the state government, on a petition challenging the repetitive and continuous issuance of orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Gujarat Police Act section 37.
The respondents, including the state’s home department, with service of notice waived by the additional public prosecutor, is expected to file a reply by January 22.
The petition was moved in December 2019 by five Ahmedabad-based professors and businesspersons in the wake of the new citizenship law and related protests during which four of the five petitioners were detained by the police.
The petitioners submitted that the orders passed since 2016 do not state the material facts for such imposition or the basis of which an imminent threat to public order and tranquillity was apprehended.
The petition said the orders are passed for everyone in the city of Ahmedabad while section 144 requires imposition in a specific area. The aspect that CrPC section 144 and section 37 of the GP Act requires the authority to give public notice about the passing of the orders was also highlighted.
The petition also said that the orders under CrPC section 144 and GP Act section 37 have been issued in Ahmedabad “in a routine course of manner and in the identically worded texts”, adding that such orders under Section 144 “are operating in the entire city of Ahmedabad for years without providing any notice before or after the passing of the same”. It also said compliance can be expected from citizens only if such orders are notified to the public at large.
The petitioners include IIM-A professors Navdeep Mathur and Ankur Sarin, businesspersons Archana Shah and Sanjiv Shah, and Ahmedabad University professor Raghavan Rangarajan, who was formerly a faculty with the Physical Research Laboratory.
While a reply is expected to be filed by the state, the public prosecutor submitted that regardless of the order, more than 100 permissions
The petitioners also contended that since 2016, at least 64 notifications have been issued on the Ahmedabad city police website pertaining to prohibition of assembly of more than four persons and at least another 61 notifications pertaining to the prohibition of singing songs, playing music in public and exhibition of pictures, symbols and placards.