SC norms for big protests

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    SC norms for big protests

    New Delhi, Feb. 23: The Supreme Court today ruled that any outfit that calls for a large-scale meeting, dharna or protest must pay compensation if things go wrong, depending on its contributory negligence.

    It asked Baba Ramdev’s trust to pay 25 per cent of the compensation that the apex court today awarded to those who died or suffered injuries during the police action on the yoga practitioner’s supporters at Ramlila Maidan last June.

    The court also rapped Delhi police for suddenly withdrawing permission for the protest without notice, and cracking down on sleeping protesters with lathis, teargas and brickbats. It asked the authorities to probe the police action and punish those guilty of excesses or of not helping injured protesters.

    But though the bench dubbed the police action “hasty” and “overzealous”, it stopped short of calling it “mala fide”, saying it had conformed to law. It attributed any “stray incidents” of police excess to “individual actions” and not “organisational brutality”.

    The court laid down several guidelines for protest organisers and the police:

    • The organisers must undertake to withdraw peacefully if permission for a protest is suddenly withdrawn;

    • Police permission for such events is a must because of the fundamental right to protest and assemble peacefully;

    • The police cannot invoke Section 144 of the CrPC to forbid assembly or ask the crowd to stop an activity except in emergencies (the court slammed the police for clamping the section on sleeping protesters).

    • The police cannot use too much force.

    The court took a dim view of certain actions by Ramdev and his supporters, too, and directed that the cases against them at various police stations continue.

    “Brickbatting... by both sides cannot be justified,” the bench said, adding that Ramdev’s trust and the Baba “committed breach of their legal and moral duty and acted with negligence contributing to the unfortunate incident, rendering themselves liable for legal consequences”.

    It cited how Ramdev had jumped from the stage into the crowd while declining to obey the police’s orders.

    As for the injuries to 48 protesters, one of whom died, the court said: “The number of these persons (is) sufficient for me to note that, prima facie, it was the negligence and a limited abuse of power by the police that resulted in injuries and subsequent death of Smt Rajbala.”

    It awarded a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Rajbala’s family, Rs 25,000 each to those hospitalised and discharged the same day, and Rs 50,000 to each of the other injured.

    SC norms for big protests

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