SC to hear AP’s plea on HC staying GO restricting political shows on public roads

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on Thursday (January 19) the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea against the January 12 AP High Court order, which stayed the YSRC government’s order restricting political rallies and roadshows in public areas.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha posted the matter for hearing on Thursday after Andhra Pradesh’s standing counsel Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki mentioned the state government’s petition against the High Court order, seeking an early listing.

The AP High Court, by an interim order on January 12, stayed the operation of the January 2 government order (GO), holding prima facie, that the same is contrary to the procedure prescribed under Section 30 of the Indian Police Act, 1861.

Referring to certain recent instances, the Andhra Pradesh government said that Andhra Pradesh was “plagued with a multitude of fatalities during political rallies and roadshows on public roads”.

It cited an incident on December 28, 2022, wherein eight people died during a stampede in a political roadshow held in Kandakuru of Nellore district.

As per the AP government’s order state police were to “refrain from granting permissions for such public meetings unless adequate and exceptional reasons were provided by the person seeking permission to conduct such a meeting.”

Describing the order passed by the vacation bench of the High Court as “both procedurally improper and erroneous on merits”, the Andhra Pradesh government’s petition says that the vacation bench should not have taken up the matter, because January 5, 2023, High Court notification regarding the listing of matters before the vacation bench clearly states that “no policy and administrative matters shall be taken up during vacation”.

The state government further contended that the January 2 order is regulatory and is thus clearly an administrative and policy matter. “Thus, any order passed by a vacation bench regarding the impugned GO, let alone staying its operation, is without jurisdiction since it is passed by coram non judice (before a judge not competent or without jurisdiction).”

The petition further said that the government order is “merely a set of clarificatory guidelines regarding exercise of power by the police under Section 30 of the Police Act” and “it does not ban public assembly, either directly or indirectly. Instead, it merely reasonably regulates it.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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