Rallies and Public Meetings are Safety Valves, Police Cannot Bar Them: Bombay HC

Rallies and public meetings act as safety valves and police cannot refuse permission for these citing law and order problems, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has said. The court was hearing a petition filed by the Bhim Army against police's refusal to grant them permission to hold a rally in Reshimbagh ground in Nagpur on Saturday, February 22. Among others, the police stated that the public meeting was scheduled at a maidan that’s close to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is scheduled to address the rally. A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Madhav Jamdar on Thursday said, "Such rallies and public meetings act as a safety valve. Suppression is more dangerous." Police in their affidavit filed on Thursday stated that the petitioner's organisation is seeking permission to hold a protest against Citizen (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) at a location which is near the Hedgewar Smarak Bhavan adjoining the RSS administrative building. The organisation of the petitioners holds an ideology which is different and contrary and diverse to the ideology being professed by the RSS, the police said in the affidavit, adding that the possibility of law and order situation being created at the centre of protest cannot be ruled out. The court, however, noted that the police cannot refuse permission only on the ground that it may create law and order problem. The bench said the police has failed to produce any inquiry or intelligence report to support their claim.

-- India Legal Bureau