There cannot be a complete ban on holding protests at Jantar Mantar and Boat Club: Supreme Court

There cannot be a “complete ban” on holding protests and sit-ins at Jantar Mantar and Boat Club in New Delhi, the Supreme Court said on Monday as it asked the Centre to frame guidelines to grant the necessary permission to hold such events.

A bench of Justice AK Sikri and justice Ashok Bhushan said there was a need to strike a balance between conflicting rights such as the right to protest and right of citizens to live peacefully.

“There cannot be a complete ban on holding protests at places like Jantar Mantar and Boat Club (near India Gate),” the bench added.

The verdict came on a bunch of petitions, including the one filed by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan, challenging the decision of the National Green Tribunal that banned all kinds of protests at these places.

The tribunal had banned all protests around the historic Jantar Mantar area in October last year, saying such activities violate environmental laws.

It said it was the duty of the state to protect people from noise pollution and ordered the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to remove all make-shift structures along the stretch.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Swaraj India Convenor Yogendra Yadav with others welcomed the apex court decision. “I welcome the Hon’ble Supreme Court verdict upholding peaceful right to protest in central Delhi. Attempts to convert Delhi into a police state is dangerous for democracy and rightly struck down by Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Kejriwal tweeted.

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