In many states of India, people are protesting against the new Citizenship Law (CAA) on the streets and to stop these demonstrations, state governments are using a strict colonial era rule called ‘Section 144 CrPC’.
On Friday, this prohibition was implemented in some areas of Delhi, the capital of the country, after breaking it, Delhi Police took many people into custody.
At the same time, in almost all the districts of Uttar Pradesh and some districts of Karnataka, thousands of protesters were detained by the police for violating Section 144.
The ‘Code of Criminal Procedure’ means Section 144 of the CrPC empowers large district officials like DM, SDM or Executive Magistrate to issue an injunction on behalf of the state government in case of deteriorating the law and order can be applied.
According to this, four or more people are not allowed to gather at one place. That is, you cannot perform in a particular area.
Officers can use section 144 even if there is a possibility of violation of laws. That is, Section 144 can be used even before the crowd gathers at the venue.
This law also gives several discretionary powers to state governments and local police.
For example, this prohibition can also be used to ban a single person by citing the safety of people, law and order, potential threats. And disregarding prohibitory orders is a legal offense.
In many places, the phone network, cable service and Internet are also closed under Section 144. It was recently seen in UP and West Bengal. While the laws are made separately for this.
Civil Rights and Law
For these reasons many people believe that this law has been misused to thwart protests.
Law expert Gautam Bhatia asks that when people in the country have constitutionally free freedom of expression and also have the right to assemble for their demands, are laws like Section 144 not diminishing the importance of those rights?
The Constitution of India allows appropriate restrictions on these rights given to citizens to maintain public order.
But what are these appropriate restrictions? Courts have always maintained this view after long debates that freedom of expression can be restricted in the name of public discipline only when there is a high probability of violence or fear of spreading disorder.
According to experts, during the British rule (year 1939) this law was first challenged. Later in 1961, 1967 and 1970, this law has been challenged in court. But the argument has always been put forward that in a society where there will be no public order, how will democracy be taken care of.
How should it be used?
Bhatia says that before implementing Section 144, the administration in its order has to state very clearly what was the danger to public peace and discipline? Because of which prohibitory orders were implemented. Only then can they ban people.
He says, “If the administration has firm information that there will be provocative speeches after the crowd gathers or people will be provoked to fire, then they can stop the gathering of people from the point of view of security. But the administration should It was felt that something could happen and if they started banning the rights of the people already, then the whole purpose behind this right given to the officers ends. “
“Like, Section-144 was also implemented in those districts of UP where no demonstration was started.”
Says Bhatia, “For example, there is no recent record of violent protests by people on Thursday when there was an incident in Bangalore. Why was section 144 enforced in such a situation and the necessary conditions to enforce the law It cannot be done, it can be talked about. It is an abuse of power. It is an unfair violation of fundamental rights. It can also be challenged in the courts. “
How have things changed?
How to deal with organized violence? Researchers at Taxila Institution and Vidhi Center for Legal Policy have written a research paper on this subject.
According to the researchers, the major problem with Section-144 is that it was to be used mainly during emergencies, but it is no longer so. The real situation is that this prohibition is being implemented in a very broad and discriminatory manner.
Previous governments have also used this law fiercely to thwart protests.
Avinash Kumar of Amnesty International India, a human rights organization, says, “Not allowing peaceful protests is a disrespect for the right to ‘freedom of expression’. It has a bad effect on society. The message goes to people that peace Nobody is willing to listen to them. Therefore, the governments of India (whether central or state) should have their own home delivery. Getting Snon declared illegal and close to criminal. “