A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, on Thursday, issued notice to the State government and the City Police Commissioner, Kochi, on a writ petition seeking a directive for immediate steps to restrain demonstrations, processions, rallies and agitations with participation of more than 500 people in Kochi city.
The Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, ordered that the political parties registered with the Election Commission be impleaded as additional respondents in the case. The court directed the petitioner, the Kochi-based Institute of Social Welfare, to publish public notices in two leading Malayalam newspapers and an English newspaper asking those interested in opposing or supporting the plea to submit their views. The petitioner could request the High Court Legal Service Committee or the Kerala State Legal Service Authority to meet the expense.
The petitioner sought to invoke powers under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to restrain any processions or demonstrations which are likely to violate the guidelines imposed by the Full Court on such activities.
The petitioner pointed out that a series of demonstrations and processions that were taken out in the city in the past few years had blatantly violated the directions of the court. The demonstration taken out by the SNDP Yogam on January 22 was the latest. In fact, sanction from the police was not obtained for the conduct of the demonstration. Instead of controlling the demonstration, the Commissioner had directed the operators of public transport vehicles to stop their vehicles on the outskirts of the city. Despite the direction by the court that the demonstration be conducted in accordance with the Full Court judgment, no effective steps had been taken, resulting in the violation of the freedom of movement of the common man.