The recent confrontation between the members of the VPP and the enforcement authorities of the government brings into question the rule of law and the supremacy of constitutional rights of citizens fighting for justice and redressal in a non-violent way.
What is the Supreme Court judgement on Section 144 of CrPC? The Supreme Court in one judgement said that Section 144 CrPC cannot be used to impose restrictions on citizens’ fundamental right to assemble peacefully, cannot be invoked as a ‘tool’ to ‘prevent the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights’.
The first observation on Section 144 CrPC was made in 1970, when a constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that mere disobedience of the law is not enough, and there must be obstruction, annoyance, danger to human life, health or safety or riot or an affray for passing an order under Section 144 CrPC.
So the question is whether was there any imminent danger to human life or any other underlying factors that the Home Department and the Deputy Commissioner considered imposition 144 CrPC justified?
Article 19 of the Constitution is supreme and speaks of a citizen’s rights to protest and assemble peacefully without violence and without disturbing law and order, as in this case it was a permission sought to meet the Deputy Commissioner and to sit-in protest against the unjustified, irresponsible and arrogant abrupt termination of retired Lokayukta members by this coalition government.
To deny a citizen to protest is contempt of the Constitution and a violation of his or her human rights. Perhaps the State authorities should learn to read constitutional laws and rules in a judicious manner lest they become an embarrassment of their own decisions if contested in the court of law.
Dominic S. Wankhar