Tuesday, May 28, 2024

SC sets deadline for seeking permission to conduct election awareness programmes

Supreme Court

NEW DELHI, APRIL 29: The Supreme Court on Friday directed that all District Magistrates and authorities concerned must decide within 3 days on applications for permissions to conduct election-related awareness programmes.
The Court expressed surprise over “blanket orders” issued by State Governments to prohibit such gatherings ahead of elections.
“How can such orders be issued?” Justice BR Gavai, heading a Bench, asked Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for PIL petitioners Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, both social activists.
The Bench, which included Justice Sandeep Mehta, sought a response from the Centre, the Rajasthan Government and Delhi Police. However, it passed a pan-India interim order directing that all such applications shall be dealt with within 3 days by the authorities.
The Rajasthan Government had recently ordered a blanket ban on election-related awareness programmes.
“Learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners states that though in pursuance to the clauses in the impugned order applications for permission to conduct democracy yatra and/or public meetings for educating the public with regard to elections have been made to the concerned authorities but the same have not yet been decided.
“By way of an interim order, if any person makes such an application before the competent authority, the same shall be decided within a period of 3 days from making of such an application”, Justice Gavai said while dictating the order.
The petition, filed through Advocate Prasanna S, has pleaded for restraint “on the indiscriminate practice of Magistrates and State Governments to pass blanket orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, to prohibit any and all meetings, gatherings, processions, or dharnas ahead of every Lok Sabha or Assembly election and until the declaration of results.
According to the petitioners, the blanket prohibitory orders prevent common people from freely discussing issues affecting them and organising awareness programmes on issues ahead of the elections.