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Judiciary

SC stays criminal proceedings against Karnataka CM, others for 2022 demonstration [Read SC Order]

By Jhanak Singh      19 February, 2024 01:59 PM      0 Comments
SC stays criminal proceedings against Karnataka CM others for demonstration

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed criminal proceedings initiated against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and others for a protest march organised on February 14, 2022 in Bengaluru.

A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Prashant Kumar Mishra, however, orally observed all the demonstrations, which created disturbances on the road, can't be quashed just because politicians were involved into it.

The court issued notice to the Karnataka government on a plea filed by the Chief Minister, Minister M B Patil and others  Ramalingareddy and Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Arguing for the petitioners, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, A M Singhvi and Sidharth Luthra claimed no ingredients of the offences alleged were made out in the matter.

They contended in a democracy, the right to freedom of speech and protest is paramount. 

They said the right to assemble and protest can be restricted only when public order is impacted and not the law and order.

The counsel also said the fundamental right can't be denied on the ground of law and order.

"Political protest against the ruling dispensation conducted peacefully without any criminal intent can't be muzzled," they said.

The court sought a response from the state government within six weeks. It stayed the Karnataka High Court's order of February 6, 2024 declining to quash the proceedings in the matter with Rs 10,000 cost.

In his arguments, Singhvi cited a number of past cases involving politicians like Prakash Karat, Senthil Balaji, Nishikant Dubey and others which were quashed by the High Courts.

The bench, however, said, "Your argument is if the protest is done by politicians, it has to be quashed."

"Did you seek permission before demonstration? You can't claim one fine morning, that since you are a politician, you should be allowed to obstruct the traffic," the bench said.

The court, at that point, told the counsel that the petitioners should go and face the trial.

However, after the counsel submitted holding the demonstration per se can't be considered as a criminal act, the court decided to examine the matter.

The Bengaluru police lodged the FIR and subsequently filed a charge sheet for the protest march organised to demand resignation of then Minister K S Eshwarappa following death of a civil contractor alleging demand of commission in the previous BJP government.

 

[Read SC Order]



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