How can police allow illegal protests despite filing FIRs: HC

The Madras High Court on Thursday wondered how the police could allow pro- or anti-CAA protesters to continue blocking a road in Tiruppur town despite having registered as many as 20 FIRs over the reported inconvenience caused to schoolchildren and others who use the road.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and Krishnan Ramasamy raised the question while hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate and Hindu Munnetra Kazhagam president K. Gopinath, seeking a direction to the Director General of Police (DGP) not to entertain any form of protest in Tiruppur or elsewhere.

His counsel S. Pattabiraman claimed that the road on which the anti-CAA protesters had been squatting since February 15 was the one that connects Kangeyam Road with Uthukuli Road and serves as a link road.

In response to the PIL petition, State Government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan told the court that the Tiruppur police had registered 20 FIRs so far, and charge-sheets had also been filed in some of the cases. However, in reply to a specific question from the Bench, he conceded that despite cases having been registered, the protests were still going on. Observing that such an approach of the police cannot be countenanced, the judges said that once FIRs had been filed, and had culminated in the filing of charge-sheets, nothing can prevent the police from taking further action to ensure that no such protests take place in public places without valid permission or authorisation.

The object of filing FIRs was to set the law in motion and prevent illegal activities, the Bench said. It added that there was a difference between the right to protest and the consequent obstruction caused by hindering ingress and egress to a public road used by schoolchildren and even by patients to access hospitals and so on.

The judges recalled that another Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha had passed a detailed order on the issue on February 18 on yet another PIL petition seeking to restrain the Federation of Tamil Nadu Islamic and Political Organisations from laying siege to the Secretariat on February 19.

Later in the day, when a group of advocates led by Sudha Ramalingam made a representation before the Bench that the police were disturbing even those who were protesting peacefully across the State without causing any disturbance to the public, the judges directed the Registry to list the case once again on Friday for passing appropriate orders.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2020 11:14:47 AM |

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