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Gujarat Farmers Body moves high court against police refusal to allow farmers’ meet in Surat

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Gujarat Khedut Samaj, a farmers’ body in the state has filed a petition in Gujarat High Court challenging the Surat Police Commissioner’s refusal to let it conduct a meeting in its office premises on January 3. The farmers’ body had said that it would follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

According to the petition filed by Gujarat Khedut Samaj through their counsel Anand Yagnik, despite assurance to the police authorities that they would follow COVID19 safety protocols, their permission to hold a meeting was rejected.

This, the petition said, was in complete violation of Article 19 of the Constitution. The petitioner has sought to quash the order of the police commissioner.

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One of the reasons given by police authorities while denying the petitioner permission to hold the meeting was that the farmers’ protest was going on in Delhi and the meeting may extend support to the same which may be opposed by the Centre and the state.

Arguments by the farmers’ body

Citing argument against this reply, the farmer organization has claimed in the petition that, “expression of support to a non-violent agitation anywhere in India by words and expression of opposition on the issues of
the state and central govt are well within “freedom of expression” guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The other two reasons which were given by police while refusing permission was the ongoing COVID pandemic and fear that the guidelines will be violated if the gathering turns large.

It further said the police authorities grant permission for different political parties to public meetings and political rallies amid the COVID-19 pandemic while the same authority rejects the petitioner organization’s application which in turn is a violation of articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

According to the Bombay Police Act 1951, permission to hold a meeting can only be denied after hearing the other party, which is not done in this case, the petition claimed.

The farmer’s body – Gujarat Khedut Samaj had sought permission to hold a meeting on its premises on December 25 last year which was rejected by police on January 1, 2021.

 

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