Right to protest at Dharna Chowk restored

Right to protest at Dharna Chowk restored
Highlights

The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday issued interim orders restoring the right of agitators to protest at the Dharna Chowk The court, however, directed the government to file a counter within two days The Division Bench of the Hyderabad High Court, comprising Chief Justice T B Radhakrishnan and Justice V Ramasubramanian,

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday issued interim orders restoring the right of agitators to protest at the ‘Dharna Chowk’. The court, however, directed the government to file a counter within two days. The Division Bench of the Hyderabad High Court, comprising Chief Justice T B Radhakrishnan and Justice V Ramasubramanian, on Tuesday heard a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the police banning ‘dharnas’ near Indira Chowk, well-known as ‘Dharna Chowk.’ The court took cognizance of a letter written Prof P L Viveshwara Rao.

In his petition, the professor contended that the right to right to dissent and right to protest are inherent in right to freedom of speech. He said the Constitution has guaranteed fundamental rights to citizen under Article 19(1) (b). He argued that the police banning the protests at the chowk went against the rights guaranteed to the citizens.

He prayed the court to ensure that the restrictions are lifted. Additional Advocate General Ramachandra Rao, appearing for the State of Telangana, argued that because of the increase in the population, congestion and several other factors, including the objection from the residents in the vicinity of the Dharna Chowk, orders banning protests were issued. Protests can be staged at a place which is 50 km away from the Dharna Chowk.

After hearing both the parties at length, the Chief Justice said that acting in accordance with the law protests can be allowed and no government has a right to curb dissent. The Chief Justice further averred that asking someone to travel 50 km to stage a protest appeared to be improper. He said, telecom towers, even if they cause disturbance, are to be installed where people live.

Their installation in forests would serve no purpose. In the same way dharnas are allowed to be conducted where people live, but not in isolated places. The Chief Justice directed the government to impose reasonable regulations in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of India on how protesters should conduct themselves. He further asked the Additional Advocate General if the government of the day can provide transport and other essential services like water to the aggrieved individuals to stage protest 50 km away from the city. Justice Ramasubramanian said that “Dharna Chowk is necessary until you come to power and they become redundant once you assume

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