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24 Jul 2018

Protest ban at Jantar Mantar off

R. Balaji, TT, Jul 24, 2018, New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the National Green Tribunal's ban on demonstrations at Jantar Mantar, saying people have a fundamental right to protest at public places subject to certain restrictions imposed by the authorities.

The bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan gave the Delhi police commissioner two months to come out with suitable guidelines for protesters at such places.

It said only the minimum distance from Parliament House, North and South Block, the Supreme Court and VIP residences should be prescribed within which no demonstration would be allowed.

However, the court added that demonstrations can be temporarily banned on certain occasions, such as visits by foreign dignitaries who would pass through the area.

Farmer body Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and various NGOs had challenged the tribunal's October 2017 ban on protests at Jantar Mantar, a popular place for demonstrations, and its surroundings. The petitioners had also castigated the police for frequently banning the assembly of five or more persons at these places.

The ban had come on a batch of petitions from residents of the neighbourhood, who had complained that the frequent demonstrations in the area were causing them many difficulties.

But the top court said: "Right of people to hold peaceful protests and demonstrations, etc, is a fundamental right."

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