In a much-awaited judgement, Supreme Court on Monday has lifted the blanket ban imposed on protests around Delhi's famous Jantar Mantar. In its decision, the court said that protestors are allowed to organise peaceful protests in the area.
There cannot be a "complete ban" on holding protests and sit-ins at Jantar Mantar and Boat Club in New Delhi, Hindustan Times reported.
Further, the court has ordered the Delhi police to prepare rules in accordance with the areas around the buildings where the people can peacefully hold such events. Also, the guidelines for the protests will specify the occasions when these demonstrations cannot be held.
A closer look at SC's decision
There is a need to maintain a balance between conflicting rights such as the right of citizens to live peacefully and the right to protest, said a bench consisted of Justice AK Sikri and justice Ashok Bhushan.
Notably, the bench held that it was the prime duty of the state to protect rights of the people and the state should save its denizens from noise pollution. In addition, the apex court asked the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to remove all make-shift structures along the stretch.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appreciated the SC decision in a tweet, saying "attempts to convert Delhi into a police state is dangerous for democracy."
Petition vs. blanket ban
The PIL was filed by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan with the assistance of its founder member, the RTI activist Aruna Roy. The PIL made the Delhi police commission and Union home secretary as parties in the petition and challenged the decision of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that put a halt on peaceful protests in October last year, stating such activities breach environmental laws. All these protests used to held at Boat Club and outside the Jantar Mantar premises.
The NGT order came after a plea was filed by Varun Seth who claimed that protests and rallies organised by the NGOs, political parties and social groups are a source of noise pollution, traffic and filth in the area. In its verdict, the NGT said, ''The state had failed to provide the pollution free environment to citizens living in the nearby areas."