The Supreme Court on Monday lifted the blanket ban on protests at Delhi’s historic Jantar Mantar which was imposed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2017. In its order, the apex court observed that there was a need to strike a balance between right to protest and right of citizens to live peacefully.
In the order, a two-judge bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the Delhi Police will have to frame guidelines to regulate protests at both Jantar Mantar and the Boat Club on Rajpath.
Directing the guidelines to be framed “very soon”, the bench also noted that as it is there was need for police permission for holding protests or demonstrations.
Imposing the ban in October last year, the NGT had stated that activities such as protests violate environmental law and said that the state was duty-bound to protect people from noise pollution.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) was subsequently ordered to clear the road leading to the 18th century monument of all protest-related material such as make-shift structures and loudspeakers.
The historic astronomical observatory has been the site of famous protests such as Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Babri Masjid demolition protests and the Tamil Nadu farmers’ protest.
A plea challenging the NGT order and the perennial imposition of prohibitory orders (Section 144) in the central Delhi area was filed by NGO Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, the Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement and others.