SC remits back to AP HC state govts plea against order on ban on rallies on roads


20 January 2023

We will request the chief justice of the HC to ensure hearing of the matter by a division bench presided over by him on Jan 23, the CJI said

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Andhra Pradesh High Court to hear a plea challenging the state government’s January 2, 2023 GO-1, restricting and regulating the political rallies and the roadshows on public roads.

A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha asked the High Court to hear and decide the matter. This was after the bench was informed the matter was listed before a bench of HC Chief Justice, Justice Prashant Mishra.

Questioning the High Court’s January 12, 2023, interim order that stayed the operation of the GO, advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for AP, said the vacation bench order was without jurisdiction.

Pointing to the pace at which everything happened on January 12, 2023 in the High Court, Vaidyanathan said the matter was mentioned before the HC vacation bench in the morning at 10.30 am; was taken up the same day and an interim order putting on hold the January 2, 2023 state government order to regulate political rallies/roadshows was passed.

 Vaidyanathan said the vacation bench assumed the jurisdiction that was not available to it during the winter vacation of the High Court. Terming this as an “egregious assumption of jurisdiction by the vacation bench”, Vaidyanathan said the January 5, 2023 HC notification regarding the listing of matters before the vacation bench clearly stated, “No policy and administrative matters shall be taken up during vacation.”

As the apex court was informed that the matter is now listed for January 23 before a bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice Prashant Mishra, the SC bench said, “Let the High Court Chief Justice take it up.”

The case would come up for hearing before the HC bench headed by Chief Justice Mishra on January 23.

 Asking the High Court to decide the matter, the top court said that “all the rights and contentions of the parties are open to be urged before the High Court.”

The AP government had approached the top court against the January 12, 2023, interim order of the HC, staying the GO-1 restricting the political rallies/roadshows on the public roads.

 In support of GO-1, the Andhra Pradesh government had referred to certain recent instances like the December 28, 2022, tragedy when eight people died during a stampede in a political roadshow held in Kandakuru, Nellore district.

The state government had contended that the January 2 order was of a regulatory nature and was 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), it argued.”

 The state government had said that if the stay on the government order was allowed to continue, “there will be more fatalities at these unchecked and unregulated political rallies, and it is the duty of the state to take measures to prevent such losses.”

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