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SC:Violent protest is not a fundamental right

Team SoOLEGAL 19 Mar 2018 1:15pm

SC:Violent protest is not a fundamental right

New Delhi :  While listening to plea  by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung for protection against arrest in several cases filed against him by the West Bengal government for violent unrest in the Darjeeling Hills, a SC bench of  Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan observed that the reason for the demonstration might be genuine, but this did not give agitators the licence to resort to violence, destroying property and, at times endangering lives of citizens. Demonstrations not covered under fundamental rights.Constitution only provides for right to assemble peacefully.

Justice Bhushan, who wrote the judgment said, “Demonstrations, whether political, religious or social or other demonstrations, which create public disturbances or operate as nuisances or create or manifestly threaten some tangible public or private mischief are not covered by protection under Article 19(1) (free speech)".

“A demonstration may take various forms, it may be noisy and disorderly. For instance, stone-throwing by a crowd may be cited as an example of a violent and disorderly demonstration which is obviously not protected by either the fundamental right to free speech and expression or the fundamental right to assembly peacefully,” the court held.

Likewise, it held that the right to free speech includes the right to speak in public, but this too should not be used to incite violence.

The court referred to the Kerala High Court’s judgment on ‘bandhs’ to evoke the judicial objections against methods used by particular groups or parties or sects to paralyse the entire citizenry.

“No political party or organisation can claim that it is entitled to paralyse the industry and commerce in the entire State or nation and is entitled to prevent the citizens, not in sympathy with its viewpoint, from exercising their fundamental rights or from performing their duties for their own benefit or for the benefit of the State or the nation,” Justice Bhushan reproduced the verdict of the high court given almost 20 years ago.

Tagged: SC   Kerala HC   Gorkha Janmukti Morcha   Fundamental rights  
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