- Apprentice Lawyer
Aam Aadmi Party legislators, Atishi Marlena and Raghav Chadha have moved the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to allow them to stage a four-people protest outside the residences of Union Home Minister, Amit Shah and Lieutenant Governor, Anil Baijal. (Atishi vs Commissioner, Delhi Police) (Raghav Chadha vs Commissioner, Delhi Police)
The protest is directed against alleged misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore by North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla was informed today that the permission to stage a peaceful dharna at the two locations was denied by the Delhi Police on account of COVID-19 norms and section 144 CrPC prohibitory orders.
"They should have been careful in rejecting the bona fide demands of the citizens..These are the representatives of the people.They know how to prefer social distancing", Advocate Manish Vashisht for Chadha argued.
Vashisht said that protest was not intended to be a "day-long process" and that only four legislators would peacefully sit outside the requested destinations from 2-2:30 pm till 4:30 pm.
Even outside the residence of the Chief Minister, protests have been allowed, he added.
Appearing for Atishi, Advocate Satvik Varma contended that Delhi Police order refusing to grant permission for the protest was simply generic inasmuch it cited "law and order" as a ground for refusal.
In response to the petitions, Additional Standing Counsel Gautam Narayan said that as per the orders passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority last month, no public gatherings were allowed in the national capital till December 31, 2020.
He added that not only were protests prohibited in the residential areas in Delhi by virtue of a Supreme Court order, standing orders imposing Section 144 CrPC in the two requested destinations were also in place.
Nayaran informed that all protests in Delhi had to be held either at Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan.
Considering that the request was only for 4 people, which would not be in violation of the Section 144 CrPC prohibitory orders, the Court questioned Narayan if the same could be allowed subject to conditions.
As far as the issue of protests being permitted outside the residence of the Chief Minister residence was concerned, the Court remarked that the aggrieved party was free to take appropriate action against it.
Varma also asserted that Delhi Police stand that protests were prohibited in the residential areas was not correct.
The hearing remained inconclusive on account of paucity of time.
The matter would be heard next tomorrow i.e. December 18.