HC seeks police stand on pleas of Raghav, Atishi to protest outside homes of Shah, Delhi L-G

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Friday sought responses from the Delhi government and police on AAP MLAs Raghav Chadha and Atishi Marlena's pleas challenging the denial of their request for permission to hold protests outside the residences of Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt Governor Anil Baijal.

Justice Navin Chawla issued notices to the Delhi government and police, and sought their stand on the petitions by the two AAP leaders by January 14.

The Delhi Police, represented by Additional Standing Counsel Gautam Narayan, told the court that permissions were denied to the two AAP MLAs on the basis of orders passed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) prohibiting large gatherings in the city in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

The police also told the court that in accordance with a Supreme Court order, it has issued a standing order prohibiting protests and dharnas in residential areas in the national capital.

The court asked the police to indicate its stand on the affidavits.

Both AAP MLAs wanted to stage 'dharnas' outside the residences of the home minister and the L-G on December 13 to protest against the alleged misappropriation of funds by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, but they were denied permission.

Both were detained by police on December 13, along with some other AAP leaders, for attempting to protest at the two sites without the necessary permission.

During the hearing of the two matters on Thursday, the Delhi Police had told the court that protests or dharnas are prohibited in residential areas of the national capital in accordance with the Supreme Court's direction and areas designated for demonstrations were Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar.

The court had suggested to police that the AAP leaders could be allowed to hold the protest subject to whatever restrictions the agency wants to impose on them as only four persons would be staging the dharna at each of the two sites.

'They will give an undertaking to abide by the restrictions,' the court had said on Thursday.

The two AAP MLAs have contended that while they were denied permission to protest outside the residences of the Home Minister and the LG on the ground of COVID-19 restrictions and law and order concerns, MCD councillors of BJP have been permitted to continue staging a 'dharna' outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence.

They have also contended that while they sought permission for only four persons to protest at each of the two sites, un-numbered persons are staging a demonstration outside Kejriwal's residence.

They have alleged that this indicates the arbitrariness in the decision taken by the Delhi police and have sought quashing of its December 12 communication rejecting their request to hold a protest outside the residences of Shah and Baijal.

The Delhi police had rejected their request by citing a November 28 order of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) which prohibits till December 31 all social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions or other gatherings throughout the national capital to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, the police in Atishi's case had denied the request on 'law and order point of view' and in Chadha's case, on the ground that section 144 IPC is already in force in the area of New Delhi district. PTI HMP RKS RKS