Decide applications seeking to hold public meetings within 3 days, orders SC

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS): In an interim direction, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered authorities should decide on, within three days, the applications seeking to hold public meetings where blanket prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC are in force due to the Lok Sabha polls.

A bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta issued notice on a public interest litigation (PIL), challenging blanket orders passed by magistrates and state governments under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) prohibiting meetings, gatherings, processions, or dharnas ahead of every Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha election, and until the declaration of results.

The plea, filed through advocate Prasanna S., said that these blanket prohibitory orders directly affect civil society and the general public, preventing them from freely discussing, participating, organising, or mobilising on issues affecting them ahead of elections.

It contended that these prohibitions apply to all persons including those who do not belong to a political party or candidate, irrespective of the agenda or purpose.

Citing the orders passed by some Magistrates in Rajasthan during the 2023 state elections and the forthcoming general polls, in addition to similar orders issued in parts of Delhi and Gujarat, the plea said: "The authorities cannot act merely on the conjecture that there will be a public order issue merely on the grounds of elections having been announced."

It prayed for setting aside all such Section 144 orders and directing the competent authorities to withdraw and if necessary, reissue localised orders only to the extent necessary based on objective material.

The matter will be heard again after two weeks.


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Title: Decide applications seeking to hold public meetings within 3 days, orders SC

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