Water bill issue: HC to hear today AAP’s plea against Delhi Police’s refusal to allow peaceful protest

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New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) The High Court is slated to hear on Friday a petition by the AAP challenging Delhi Police’s order refusing permission for holding a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar on February 25.

The party wants to hold the protest against the alleged obstacles to the Delhi Jal Board’s One-Time Settlement Scheme for water bill arrears.

The AAP has argued in its petition that this denial infringes upon their Fundamental Right to assemble peaceably and without arms, a right enshrined in Article 19(1)(b) of the Indian Constitution, especially in a democratic context where peaceful protests are a means to voice grievances and demand accountability from authorities.

“The Respondent (Delhi Police) erroneously and arbitrarily declined the request of the petitioner to hold a peaceful protest on 25.02.2024 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi which is in violation of the Fundamental Right of the petitioner,” the petition reads.

The said protest by Delhi’s ruling party is slated to be attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, ministers of the Delhi Government, MLAs of the AAP and around 800 party workers and members of the public.

The AAP has argued in its petition that the request was “erroneously and arbitrarily” declined and that the Fundamental Right as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India forms an essential part of democracy and the same cannot be taken away summarily by a blanket and prohibitory order issued under Section 144 of the CrPC 1973.

“The order dated 11.02.2024 has been passed on the apprehension that the ‘farmer unions’ will march and try to enter the territory of Delhi and their entry has to be restricted. The entire state cannot be brought to a halt and on this ground, the Petitioner cannot be denied the permission to hold the protest at Jantar Mantar,” the petition states.

“It is submitted that by virtue of Section 144 of the CrPC there cannot be complete prohibition on demonstrations etc but after taking into consideration the request, the permission can be granted by laying down proper parameters.

“It is further extremely pertinent to mention that the Respondent is solely acting upon its own whims and fancy in sheer disregard of the laws on the subject matter, the guidelines mentioned and its conduct is highly capricious and whimsical,” the AAP’s petition reads.



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