Protests in Bengaluru can be held only inside Freedom Park: Karnataka HC verdict

The High Court was disposing of a plea and reiterated its order that protests can only be held in Freedom Park in Bengaluru to ‘prevent traffic snarls’.
The Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court
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The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to take strict measures against those who organise protests outside Freedom Park in Bengaluru. The court on Monday, August 1, reiterated that Freedom Park is the designated spot for processions, dharnas and protests under the Licensing and Regulation of Protests, Demonstrations and Protest Marches (Bengaluru City) order of 2021.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Vishwajit Shetty was disposing of a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) from last year, after a Congress Mekedatu rally through the city caused major traffic snarls. The bench also observed that, as per the Advocate General’s submission, criminal proceedings had been initiated against 27 people found violating the order.

The court had taken up the matter last March, and cited a media report regarding inconveniences caused by the Congress rally, which led to several arterial roads being closed off for long stretches. A bench of former Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice SR Krishnakumar had, at the time, issued the Licensing and Regulation of Protests, Demonstrations and Protest Marches (Bengaluru City) order. This directed the state government to take action against those protesting outside the designated area, as it could lead to major inconvenience for residents. The order empowered police officers to initiate legal action against violators under IPC Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant) and the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.

The suo motu case was registered based on a letter to former Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka from his brother Justice Aravind Kumar. The letter reportedly expressed displeasure with the inconveniences caused to the city’s traffic, and Justice Aravind Kumar requested for it to be treated as a suo motu PIL. Following this, the Karnataka government, Bengaluru Police Commissioner, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and top politicians were made respondents in the case. 

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