Madras High Court
Madras High Court
Litigation News

Coronavirus does not differentiate on nature of gatherings: Madras HC directs that no protests should take place while pandemic persists

"There shall not be any protests/processions/demonstrations till the threat of Corona Virus abates", the Court has ordered.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court on Friday issued directions to ensure that no mass gatherings/demonstrations take place, including those for or against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, to guard against the risk of spreading the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The order was passed following an application made to adjourn a batch of petitions filed to prevent Anti-CAA agitations alleged to be without police permission for a period of three weeks, in view of the unprecedented health crisis caused by the coronavirus.

The Court was also told that the protests stood withdrawn in these circumstances. Moreover, the Public Prosecutor submitted that no demonstrations would be permitted during this time, in line with a Government Circular issued on Thursday.

This Circular directs the police to avoid granting permissions for mass gatherings and to advise the public against crowding in public places to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

The Bench of Justices MM Sundaresh and Krishnan Ramaswamy, in turn, observed,

“Now, we are more concerned with the present scenario wherein a pandemic has set in. Steps have been taken both by the Central and State Government to control the spread of the Corona virus. Even this Court… has taken certain austerity measures. The issue is not concerned with the right of protestors alone by the overall interest of the entire citizenry.”
Madras High Court

Therefore, it proceeded to issue the following directions:

  • There shall not be any protests/processions/demonstrations till the threat of Corona Virus abates.

  • If any such activity either goes on now or is started henceforth, the official respondents shall take appropriate steps to stop it.

  • The protests or assembly are not restricted to any single issue or group of persons and, therefore, to be made applicable to all.

  • The State Government may issue appropriate advisories not to have any functions during the interregnum.

  • Insofar as the marriages fixed already are concerned, the state Government may further give an advisory requesting the parties either to consider postponement or reduce the gathering.

The Court added,

“The above mentioned are merely illustrative in nature as the spread of Corona virus shall not differentiate the nature of gatherings.”
Madras High Court

The matter has been posted to be taken up next on April 21.

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