The Supreme Court on Friday sent back to Andhra Pradesh High Court to hear an appeal of the state government challenging the order staying the state decision restricting public meetings on roadsides.
The top court also requested that the matter will be taken by the Andhra Pradesh High Court division bench led by the Chief Justice of the concerned HC.
The State of Andhra Pradesh has moved the Supreme Court against the interim order dated January 12, 2023, by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, at Amaravati. By the Impugned order, the High Court has stayed the operation of the government order dated January 2, 2023, finding, prima facie, that the same is contrary to the procedure prescribed under Section 30 of the Police Act.
“Since the proceedings are now listed before the High Court on 23 January 2023, we are not inclined to enter into the merits of the grievance arising from the impugned judgment of the Division Bench at this stage,” the top court said.
“However, we request the Division Bench presided over by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh to take up the writ petition before the first Court for hearing on 23 January 2023,” it said.
Andhra government has said that in recent times, the State of Andhra Pradesh has been plagued with a multitude of fatalities caused during political rallies and roadshows on public roads. The state government said that on December 28, 2022, 8 people died during a stampede in a political roadshow held in Kandakuru, Nellore District.
The State Government said it has been prompted to issue the Impugned GO, wherein it clarified/emphasized the considerations to be taken by the police while regulating public meetings/demonstrations under Section 30 of the Indian Police Act, 1861.
Vide the Impugned GO, the Andhra Pradesh Police Department was advised 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.
A petition was filed against it before the High Court alleging that the Impugned Government Order was unconstitutional. The High Court stayed the government decision.
The state government said that recent instances of both fatalities and public inconvenience indicate that public safety and interest mandate that such meetings be avoided, unless in exceptional circumstances, and the Impugned GO merely advises the police to ideally act accordingly.
Adding further, the state government said that if the stay of the Impugned Government Order is 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 ameliorate these losses.