SC to hear Andhra Pradesh plea against HC stay on government decision to restrict public meetings

The AP government said that the state has been hit by a number of fatalities caused during political rallies and roadshows on public roads.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 18, 2023 | 6:55 PM Updated Jan 18, 2023 | 6:56 PM

The AP high court, by an interim order, stayed the operation of the 2 January state government order, holding prima facie, that the same is contrary to the procedure prescribed under The Police Act, 1861. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 18 January, agreed to hear on Thursday the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea against the state high court’s order staying the state’s decision to restrict public meetings by the roadside.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday after Andhra Pradesh’s standing counsel Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki mentioned the state government’s plea against the high court order and sought an early listing.

The high court, in an interim order on 12 January 2023, stayed the operation of the 2 January Government Order (GO), holding prima facie that it was contrary to the procedure prescribed under Section 30 of The Police Act of 1861.

The Andhra Pradesh government stated that, in recent times, it had been hit by a multitude of fatalities caused during political rallies and roadshows on public roads.

The state government cited the example of a political roadshow held in Kandukur of the Nellore district on 28 December 2022, in which eight people died due to a stampede.

The government order

The state government said it was prompted to issue a GO that clarified or emphasised the steps to be taken by the police while regulating public meetings and demonstrations under Section 30 of The Police Act.

As per the order, the state police were advised to desist from granting permissions for public meetings unless adequate and exceptional reasons were provided by the organisers while seeking permission to conduct such meetings.

In its judgement, the Andhra Pradesh High Court stated that the order restricting political gatherings or roadshows was arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Also read: AP HC suspends GO prohibiting roadshows, public meetings

The government said that the recent instances of fatalities and such gatherings causing inconvenience to the public showed that such meetings should be avoided.

It added that the 2 January order merely advised the police to act accordingly.

The state government said that if the stay on the GO was allowed to continue, there would be more fatalities at unchecked and unregulated political rallies, and that it was the duty of the state to take measures to prevent such losses.