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The Karnataka High Court on Thursday held that the prohibitory orders imposed in Bengaluru under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on December 18 were “illegal” and “cannot stand the test of judicial scrutiny”.

Karnataka Police had imposed section 144 on December 18 last year in view of planned protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The High Court had taken up the matter for hearing after Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda, MLA Sowmya Reddy and some citizens moved the court against the order. The court had said it would look into the legality of the section 144 order.

The bench posed many questions to Advocate General Prabhuling Navadi, who appeared for the state government including:

How permissions granted to certain organizations for protests was cancelled overnight?

Can a sweeping order under section 144 cancel an already granted permission?

How can state assume that every protest will disturb the peace?

In an earlier hearing, Justice Oka had said “Are you going to ban each and every protest.

It was argued by the Advocate General that the fundamental right to peaceful protest was subject to reasonable restrictions.

AG Navadgi further submitted that Section 144 only placed temporary restrictions on the fundamental rights of the petitioners in order to ensure public safety.

He also stated that the order was issued on the basis of various intelligence reports, which indicated that certain antisocial persons and organizations were planning to infiltrate the otherwise peaceful protests.

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