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Spell out stance on dharna, Telangana government told

Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent

Published on: September 18, 2018 | Updated on: September 18, 2018

The bench had also taken up PIL on a letter by Professor Visweswara Rao.

Telangana Government logo

Telangana Government logo

Hyderabad: Making it clear that in a democratic country like India, those in governance cannot suppress the voices of the people, the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Telangana Government to make its stance clear on the continuation of Dharna Chowk at Indira Park within 15 days. 

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil .B. Radhakrishnan and Justice V. Ramasubramanian was dealing with a PIL moved by Congress leader Mr. V Hanumantha Rao challenging the action of the Government in not permitting the Dharnas and protest meetings within the limits of city including at Dharna Chowk at Indira Park in the city. The bench had also taken up PIL on a letter by Professor Visweswara Rao.

The bench said that while the Government could impose reasonable restrictions on protest marches and dharnas if it perceived any inconvenience to the public, it could not compel the people to stage their protests 50 kilometers away from the city.

Reminding the Government that the Dharna Chowk had stood as a dais for many political parties before they came into power, the bench said "The protests have to be held in the people's presence. Did you want the people to protest in Hrishikesh?"

The bench directed the authorities to file the affidavit indicating the places identified for the Dharna Chowk and facilities available at them.

The bench made it clear that it was the last chance for the authorities to file the counter affidavit and the court would take decision on the next date of hearing in this case.

Mr. C. Damodar Reddy said, "The Constitution has given the right to the people to express their protest in a democratic way and the Government has to allow the people to ventilate their grievances, but the State Government has been crushing the democratic rights of the people."

Stating that for the past several years several political parties have been holding their protest and public meetings at Dharna Chowk and NTR stadium, he pointed out that the TRS party also has to remember that it had previously used the Dharna Chowk for its protests.

Mr. J Ramachandra Rao, additional advocate general submitted that the Government had identified the places at Shameerpet, Shamshabad, Jawharnagar and Medipally for the Dharna Chowk and due to the complaints from the people residing near the Dharna Chowk at Indira Park, the Government has decided to shift it some other place.

Reacting to the submissions, the bench said "Indira Park is in existence for the past several decades and residences have came up later and this is India; you cannot curtail the protest voices of people. What is the use if people protest in remote places? What is the use in installing cell towers in forests when animals do not use the cell phones?"

At one stage, Professor Visweswara Rao tried to intervene in the arguments, the bench told him not to intervene in the argument as he was not the petitioner in the case and the court had suo motto taken up his letter.

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