Public meetings act as safety valve, cops can't deny them: HC

Nagpur: Observing that rallies and public meetings act as a safety valve, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday said police cannot refuse permission for a public meeting simply on the ground that it would create a law and order problem.

The bench, while hearing a petition filed by a Bhim Army functionary against police's refusal to grant them permission to hold a rally in Reshimbagh ground here on February 22, also said that fundamental rights should not be curtailed.

The ground in which the public meeting is to be held is close to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is scheduled to address the rally.

However, the Kotwali police has denied permission citing law and order.

A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Madhav Jamdar on Thursday said, "Such rallies and public meetings act as a safety valve. Suppression is more dangerous."

Police in their affidavit filed on Thursday stated that the petitioner's organisation is seeking permission to

hold a protest against Citizen (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) at a location which is near the Hedgewar Smarak Bhavan adjoining the RSS administrative building.

The organisation of the petitioners holds an ideology which is different and contrary and diverse to the ideology being professed by the RSS, the police said in the affidavit, adding that the possibility of law and order situation being created at the centre of protest cannot be ruled out.

The court, however, noted that the police cannot refuse permission only on the ground that it may create law and order problem.

The bench said the police has failed to produce any inquiry or intelligence report to support their claim.