The Karnataka High Court on Friday, December 20, questioned the state government regarding the imposition of Section 144 and the subsequent revocation of permission granted for protests.
"Are you (state) going to ban each and every protest? How can you cancel the permission of a previously granted order?" asked Chief Justice Abhay Oka.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda against the imposition of Section 144 across the state. The prohibitory order was imposed ahead of multiple protests planned against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Defying the order, thousands of people had taken to the streets on Thursday. More than 100 protesters, including notable historian Ramachandra Guha, were detained from Bengaluru's Town Hall. Guha had condemned the city police for their action against the demonstrators.
"We are protesting in a non-violent manner totally. This is a discriminatory act. See how the police are behaving against the citizens. What is this action of the police," said Guha.
Justice Oka asked if an author or artist can protest against a government's decision in case of a disagreement. The court further questioned if the state can assume that every protest will become violent.
Justice Oka questioned how the permission for the protest was cancelled overnight. "When permission for carrying out protests was given to certain organisations, then how can it be cancelled overnight?" he said.
The court examined the legality of Section 144 and asked whether the state government will allow a peaceful protest if a fresh application seeking permission is filed.
What did the police say?
Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, IPS, had addressed a press conference after the permission to protest was revoked. "As many as 60 groups, both for and against CAA, had requested permission for protests on Thursday. We took a decision that both groups should not be allowed," he said.
"Taking into consideration what's been happening in various parts of the country where protests and processions have resulted in violent actions, resulting in large scale law and order problems, including injury, death and police firing, buses being stoned and burnt, we do not want such a situation in Bengaluru," he added.
He had further said that actions will be taken against those who violate the prohibitory orders under Section 188.