On 12th January the Calcutta High Court made important remarks related to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
The remarks were made while a hearing a petition filed for allowing the association space for an indefinite sit-in protest.
A single-judge bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya stated that the fundamental right to assemble peacefully cannot be curtailed however there needs to be a balance between public order, security and such rights.
The order stated, “it is evident that the petitioners’ fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression and to assemble peacefully cannot be curtailed by the State. At the same time, a balance has to be struck between the rights of the petitioners and public order as well as security.”
The court passed the order while hearing a writ petition that was moved by the association and requested permission to stage a sit-in protest at Bikash Bhavan at Salt Lake or in the adjacent area.
This plea was rejected by the State on the grounds of flimsy and inadequacy.
The counsel for the concerned authority during the matter contended that they could be accommodated in another area for a limited period.
The authority rejected the plea as the area of protest was only 50m away from the gate of the Central Park where a metro car shed was situated.
This car shed was in the direction of the Salt Lake City Centre.
After evaluating both the sides of the contentions, the court instructed for the petition-association to be accommodated in the area proposed by the state.
The Court also directed the association to follow the COVID-19 protocols and pollution control norms and the petitioner were directed to follow law and order strictly.