Right to protest is not the right to cause nuisance to public: HC

Chennai

The Madras High Court today observed that the right to protest is not the right to cause nuisance or harassment to the public at large.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam, said “the very concept of holding demonstrations propounding or rejecting a political and social philosophy would be questionable, especially when it is outside the residence of some people or in busy traffic areas”.

The observation was made by the judges on a petition by A P Suryaprakasam, an advocate, finding fault with the police for allowing a demonstration in front of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee office “Sathyamurthy Bhavan” here by a caste-based group on December 12, 2014.

The protest was staged after former union Finance Minister P Chidambaram?s son Karti Chidambaram?s reported comments on former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Kamaraj who was a Congres leader.

Suryaprakasam submitted that though there were designated spots in Chennai for holding protests and that police would never permit any political, religious or social organisation to hold meetings in places other than the designated spots, it was illegal on the part of police to permit demonstration in front of the TNCC headquarters.

He wanted the court to direct the authorities to identify the people behind the event and take action against them in accordance with law.

Disposing of the petition, the judges said conducting demonstrations and protests causing great inconvenience to public infringes on the rights of people to live peacefully.

One would expect that the police authority would take immediate action where the residence of people are involved or traffic is obstructed. “Right to protest cannot include right to cause inconvenience, nuisance or harassment to the public at large.”

“We really cannot have anything more to say than this and expect the police to perform their duties”, the judges said.

PTI

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