Right To Protest A Valuable Right: Supreme Court

IAS Prelims 2023

The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL that alleged that political organisations were resorting to hartals to hoodwink repeated judicial pronouncements banning strike and bandh calls, which paralysed normal life.

A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said, “Hartals can never be unconstitutional. Right to protest is a valuable constitutional right. How can we say hartals are unconstitutional.”

Having failed to convince the bench to entertain the PIL, the petitioner decided to withdraw the plea.

The Kerala high court in Bharat Kumar case in 1997 had said, “When properly understood, the calling of a bandh entails the restriction of free movement of the citizen and his right to carry on his avocation and if the legislature does not make any law either prohibiting it or curtailing it or regulating it, we think that it is the duty of the court to step in to protect the rights of the citizen so as to ensure that the freedom.” An SC bench headed by then Chief Justice J S Verma had upheld this order.