Restrict protests outside CM residence: HC to police

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has directed the police to restrict protests outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s home in the Civil Lines area of the national capital and ensure unobstructed traffic flow there.

The direction by Justice Vibhu Bakhru came on a plea by the residents of the area who claimed they were being harassed by the repeated processions and protests which take place outside the chief minister’s residence.

They also contended that the protests were leading to obstruction of the regular traffic flow there.

The court restricted the holding of protests in the area, saying that while citizens have the right to protest peacefully, it “cannot be at the cost of others”.

“Plainly, the residents of Civil Lines, Delhi cannot be put to inconvenience on account of dharnas and protesting crowds in the vicinity of their residences, which, this court is informed, has become a regular feature in that area,” it said.

The Delhi government did not oppose the plea and submitted that the police has designated specific areas like Jantar Mantar and Ram Lila Grounds, for conducting peaceful demonstrations according to the numerical strength of the protestors.

“In these circumstances, respondent no.2 (police) are directed to ensure that adequate steps are taken for keeping the residential roads free for traffic movement.

“They are directed to restrict the dharnas and protest in the residential area in question and ensure that no unnecessary inconvenience is caused to the public at large on account of any such protest,” the court said.

It also said it was not inclined to indicate the maximum number of persons that may be permitted to collect in protests and added that it would be left to the discretion of the police.

“However, they (police) shall ensure that the size of the crowd and number of persons participating in a protest in the area in question is restricted, so as to ensure that there is no obstruction in free flow of traffic or inconvenience to the residents of Civil Lines and the public at large.

“It is also clarified that if considered apposite, it would also be open for respondent no.2 to ban all protests in that area,” the court said and disposed of the plea.

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