CASE: West Bengal Recognised Un-Aided Madrasha Teacher’s Association and others Vs. State of West Bengal and others
CORAM: Hon’ble Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
On 12 January, the Calcutta HC observed that the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression and to peaceful assembly cannot be curtailed by the State and observed,
“A balance has to be struck between the rights of the petitioners and public order as well as security, in view of the stipulations in Article 19 (6) of the Constitution of India itself.”
Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya heard the petitioners’ plea (West Bengal Recognized Un-Aided Madrasha Teacher’s Association and others), who claimed that they wanted to hold a sit-in demonstration in front of Bikash Bhavan at Salt Lake or in the neighbouring region from 12 January onwards.
Furthermore, their grievance was that when they submitted an application for permission December 24, 2020, their grievances were refused by the respondent-authorities “on flimsy and inadequate grounds”.
The Counsel for the respondent authorities submitted that it was not difficult to allow the sit-in demonstration to take place in a region other than the one requested.
It was also submitted that in the event the sit-in demonstration is held for a reasonably limited number of days, maintaining all protocols, and such permission could be given for the area lying 50 meters away from the gate of the Central Park.
Taking into consideration the submission of the Counsel for the respondent authorities and noting that the petitioners have the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression and to assemble peacefully, the Court said,
“In such view of the matter, (the matter) is disposed of by directing the respondent-authorities to permit the petitioners to hold a sit-in demonstration at a venue outside the Central Park, at a distance of 50 meters away from the gate of the Central Park, where the metro car shed is located, in the direction of the City Center- I, Saltlake City, Kolkata, from (12th January) onwards.”
However, the petitioners were directed to limit themselves to the criteria defined by the Covid-19 protocols and all pollution control requirements when conducting such a demonstration. In addition, during such a demonstration, the Court directed the petitioners to uphold law and order at all times.