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Prohibitory orders illegal: Karnataka HC

The Karnataka High Court termed the city police commissioner's enforced prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC as ‘illegal and unsustainable’. The petitioners said the prohibitory orders infringed upon the fundamental rights of citizens.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 14, 2020, 08.23 AM IST
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Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Thursday termed the city police commissioner's prohibitory orders, which was issued in December last year, ‘illegal and unsustainable’. The order was to prevent the gathering of five or more people to thwart anti-CAA protests.

The police commissioner had enforced prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC for three days, which a division bench headed by Chief Justice AS Oka said does not stand the test of judicial scrutiny laid down by the apex court.

The court took up for hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Congress leader MV Rajeev Gowda, MLA Sowmya Reddy and others challenging the prohibitory orders. The petitioners said the prohibitory orders infringed upon the fundamental rights of citizens. Advocate General Prabhulinga Navadgi appeared for the government and sought to defend the police.

During the hearing, the court asked several questions, including if the police could pass a sweeping order cancelling overnight a permission granted for holding protests; could the police issue prohibitory orders assuming that every protest will vitiate peace?

The bench noted that the district magistrate – police commissioner in this case --while exercising extraordinary powers under the CrPC, has to record his opinion with regard to material facts placed before him as a prohibitory order has the effect of curtailing the fundamental right of citizens to hold peaceful protest.

The district magistrate is not bound by the opinion of his superiors and must take an independent decision, the court said. It said the police commissioner went by the content of letters sent to him by the eight deputy police commissioners in the city and reproduced the same in his notification without holding any independent inquiry.
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