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The Karnataka High Court’s response in the PILs filed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda, Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy, and others has given some hope to the anti-CAA and anti-NRC protestors. The case was heard on December 20.
The PIL has challenged the detention of persons including historian Ramachandra Guha as they had defied the prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC
The Karnataka High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Pradeep Singh Yerur reprimanded the government and questioned it, “Are you (state) going to ban each and every protest? How can you cancel permission previously granted following due course of process?… Can the state proceed on the assumption that every protest will become violent? Can an author or artist not hold a peaceful protest if he disagrees with any decision of the government.”
The bench has decided to look into the legality of the prohibitory orders implemented from December 19 to 21. The Bench observed that the cause of the protest is not a matter of concern to the court as much as the decision-making process that imposed the prohibitory orders, since these orders curtail fundamental rights of citizens. “It should be checked whether any permission to organisers previously granted to hold a peaceful protest was revoked in wake of Sec 144 order, (and if it) can be considered if they apply for fresh permission,” the court said.
The Attorney General, Prabhuling K Navadgi argued that the police had only acted on intelligence reports received by it that indicated that the protests could turn into a law and order situationand that people from Kerala had infiltrated into the state. He said that the police were only acting to safeguard public property.
The Indian Express reported that apart from Guha, several protesters including Shivajinagar Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad were detained by police, and released later. The detentions prompted Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa to warn police against taking the law into their hands “without reason”.
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