Sunday, July 14, 2024

Govt bans rallies on roads

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PNS | Vijayawada

The GO No 1 issued by the State government late on Monday night banning public rallies, public gatherings, and roadshows on municipal and panchayat roads, and state and national highways has triggered an uproar among the opposition parties.The GO issued by Home Secretary Harish Kumar Gupta says that public meetings/gatherings on roads and road margins are leading to fatal incidents like the one at Kandukuru.

The prohibitory order was issued under the provisions of the Police Act, of 1861. The State Home department explained that it is the police machinery of the State, which is empowered under law to regulate these activities in the public interest while being cognizant of the fact that there is a fundamental right to peaceful assembly under Article 19 (1) (b) of the Constitution of India.

In such roadside meetings, in which people congregate on road margins also, crowd control cannot be done effectively due to narrow roads, absence of multiple exit points and sudden surge of the crowd towards the speaker, unregulated number of participants in the crowd by the organisers, last-minute changes to the locations on the road, etc.

Though the right to conduct a public meeting is a fundamental right under the Constitution, the state police are also empowered under the law to regulate such activity in the public interest as per the Police Act.The government decided that no licence is granted for any application seeking permission to hold a congregation on national and state highways which are designed for high-speed connectivity. Instead, such meetings could be held at alternative locations like public grounds and private places.

The order said that in rare and exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded in writing, any application could be considered.The same is the case with the municipal roads and panchayat roads which are narrow and are meant for the free movement of people staying in the local area.Only in rare and exceptional circumstances, and for reasons to be recorded in writing, the applications for grant of permission for public meetings may be considered.

As per the order, the authority should avoid permitting such meetings on public roads but in rare circumstances, while dealing with the subject matter, shall be guided by the width of the road, the duration of the meeting, the location of the venue, exit points, number of people likely to attend the meeting, crowd control measures, etc.

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