Observing that there was no application of mind, the Karnataka High Court on Friday pulled up the Bengaluru police for arbitrarily imposing a 3-day ban order across the city under Section 144 of the CrPC.
“The police did not apply the mind while issuing the ban order, which was a blanket one. What kind of violence was anticipated and why such an order was issued,” state Chief Justice S. Abhay Oka said while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) against the order.
A division bench of the high court headed by Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur heard the PIL of Karnataka Congress Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Gowda and four others filed against Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao and the BJP government in the southern state.
Though the bench declined to stay the ban order enforced from Thursday till Saturday night, it castigated the state government for not providing any material evidence that prompted the order.
The ban order was clamped, ostensibly, to thwart protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that grants citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Christian minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
The petition challenged the ban order under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
“A blanket ban violates the freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly under Article 19 and an arbitrary and unreasoned order cannot be passed under Article 14,” Gowda’s counsel Malavika told IANS after the hearing was adjourned to January 7, with a notice to the respondents for a reply by January 6.
The police counsel, however, contended that allowing protests would have resulted in pro-CAA and anti-CAA protesters clashing during their demonstrations.
The city police gave permissions for protests on Wednesday morning but withdrew it by the same evening, raising questions on what changed in eight hours.
“The ban order, bereft of a just, fair and reasonable procedure also violated Article 21, by impinging the liberties of the people,” asserted Gowda in his petition.
As no one was heard before revoking protest permission, Gowda’s counsel said the ban order was not a just, fair and reasonable procedure.