calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: While deciding the petitioner is entitled to the direction sought against the respondent police authorities for permission to conduct a public meeting, a single-judge bench comprising of Jay Sengupta, J., directed the respondent police authorities to grant permission for the public meeting, ensuring safety and security. Participants were directed to adhere to all applicable norms.

“Citizens of our country do have a right to assemble and hold public meetings subject only to reasonable restrictions.”

In the instant writ petition, the petitioner sought permission to organize a public meeting in Khejuri on 02-12-2023, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., to address issues of public importance. The petitioner made requests for permission via email to the local police station on 27-11-2023 and to the Superintendent of Police on 28-11.-023 and also submitted the physical copies of representations to the authorities. Despite providing all necessary details and obtaining no objections from the landowner, the police had not granted permission for the meeting.

The petitioner contended that the delay in granting permission was unwarranted and alleged discriminatory practices by the police, particularly in cases involving opposition political parties and organizations. On the other hand, the State asserted that citizens have a right to assemble and hold public meetings, subject to reasonable restrictions. The State contended that the queries raised by the police had been satisfactorily addressed by the organizers.

The Court recognised the right of citizens to assemble and hold public meetings, subject to reasonable restrictions. The Court stated that organizations, including political outfits, are entitled to a level playing field in organizing public meetings. The Court further stated that all queries sent by the police authorities were answered by the organizers via email.

The Court directed the police to grant permission for the public meeting to be held as scheduled. The Court instructed the police to ensure the safety and security of participants, local residents, and passersby during the meeting. The Court mandated the participants and speakers to adhere to applicable norms, including permitted decibel levels for loudspeakers, and refrain from using foul language or inciting violence. The writ petition was disposed of with the above observations.

[Manik Brahma v. State of W.B., 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 4746, order dated 01-12-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Jay Sengupta

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Rajdeep Mazumder, Mr. Moyukh Mukherjee and Ms. Sagnika Banerjee, Counsel for the Appellant

Mr. T.M. Siddiqui and Ms. Parna Roy Choudhury, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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