The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday described as “highly unfortunate” the Supreme Court judgment upholding the Kerala High Court order banning public meetings and rallies on roadsides.

The ruling, coupled with earlier restrictions on demonstrations and strikes, did not augur well for a democracy, the party's Polit Bureau said in a statement. It was a common practice for political parties and other public organisations to hold meetings on roadsides.

Since Kerala is a continuous urban-rural stretch, holding of such roadside meetings were the most convenient way to reach out to people, it pointed out.

“This right of assembly is now being taken away by a judicial fiat based on a farfetched interpretation of the Constitution that the right of movement is superior to the right of assembly. This may be extended to the whole country,” the statement said.

The party said the order came in the wake of other restrictions imposed by the judiciary on demonstrations, rallies and general strikes and, suggested that the State legislatures and Parliament adopt legislation to protect the right to assemble and hold public meetings and demonstrations.

Appeal dismissed

The Supreme Court came out with the judgment on Thursday.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and H.L. Dattu dismissed an appeal filed by the State government against the High Court judgment and a subsequent petition seeking a review of it. The Bench said it was not inclined to interfere with the ruling.