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‘Complete ban’ on holding protests at Jantar Mantar unacceptable: Supreme Court

The apex court asked the government to lay down guidelines for granting permission to hold protests in Jantar Mantar and Boat Club near India Gate.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 23, 2018 11:33:28 am
The apex court asked the government to lay down guidelines for granting permission to hold protests in Jantar Mantar and Boat Club near India Gate. (file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday said there cannot be a “complete ban” on holding protests at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, and asked the government to lay down guidelines for granting permission to protesters.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said there was a need for striking a balance between conflicting rights such as right to protest and right of citizens to live peacefully.  “There cannot be a complete ban on holding protests at places like Jantar Mantar and Boat Club (near India Gate),” the bench said while directing the Centre to frame guidelines on the matter.

The bench was hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan challenging the decision of the National Green Tribunal, which had banned all kinds of protests at these (Jantar Mantar, Boat Club) places.

The National Green Tribunal last year banned all forms of protests at the venue, saying they violated environmental laws. The green panel said it was the duty of the state to protect its people from noise pollution. A bench headed by Justice R S Rathore ordered the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to remove all make-shift structures, loudspeakers and other protest paraphernalia along the road stretch leading to Jantar Mantar. It identified Ramlila Grounds in Ajmeri Gate as an alternative site for agitators holding dharnas.  According to North body officials, only one organisation can hold an event at any given time at Ramlila Maidan.

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Jantar Mantar has been the site of many famous protests — including Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Babri Masjid demolition protests and the Tamil Nadu farmers’ protest.

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