Ban on events conducted in Jung Hall against the Government does not violate right to freedom of speech and expression

Gujarat High Court– Dismissing a PIL against the office of the Governor seeking directions so as not to impose any conditions which are undemocratic and unlawful while permitting use of Mehdi Nawaz Jung Hall, the division bench of R.Subhash Reddy CJ and V.M Pancholi J, observed that use of the said Hall can be only allowed for all social and welfare activities and cannot be misused for carrying out any political agenda, as management has right to impose necessary restrictions regarding usage.

In the instant case the petitioner was not allowed to conduct a public meeting in Mehdi Nawaz Jung Hall of Himavan Samaj Kalyan Kendra as the organizers did not give the undertaking. The petitioners contended that denying them to conduct the meeting resulted in violation of the freedom of speech and expression. Per contra the respondents contended that Himavan Samaj Kalyan Kendra had not been formed from the funds of the State Government but is the property of the Trust donated by trustees of Mrs.Hiraben Manilal Vadilal Nanavati Trust and such donation was subject to the condition that the hall will be used for social welfare activities. They further contended that the management of the hall had never put any restriction on the fundamental rights of the citizens.

After perusal of the facts and contentions, the Court observed that there was no violation of right to freedom of speech and expression as Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of rights guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) to (e) and in the instant case the prohibition that the hall cannot be booked for carrying out any political activity targeting the State or Central Government can be termed as a reasonable restriction. Thus the writ petition was devoid of merit and was dismissed. [Jagte Raho Party v. Secretary, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 139, decided on 30.03.2016]

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