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India
23 Jul 2018

There can't be "blanket-ban" on protests at Jantar Mantar: SC

SC lifts ban on protests at Jantar Mantar

More than nine months after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned protests at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, the SC has said a blanket ban is unacceptable.

Citizens had the right to protest as well as to live peacefully, and a balance needs to be maintained, the court observed.

Rather, the government should frame guidelines for granting of permission to protesters, it said.

In context

SC lifts ban on protests at Jantar Mantar

A brief history of Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is one of five monuments built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, with the purpose of predicting time and planetary movements. A plaque within the complex lists the year of construction as 1710, which research disproved; it was actually constructed in 1724.

Protests

Jantar Mantar is among India's most popular venues of protests

Protests in Delhi shifted from Rajpath to Jantar Mantar in the 1990s after a demonstration by farmers brought the capital to a halt.

The site gained traction with protesters due to its proximity to Parliament, North Block, South Block and other ministries, and good connectivity.

It has loudspeakers, public address systems and temporary structures which give protesters the opportunity to air their grievances.

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NGT

The NGT banned protests citing environmental problems

Last October, the NGT banned protests at Jantar Mantar, observing it was causing environmental problems.

The order stated that Jantar Mantar's environmental conditions related to "noise pollution, cleanliness, management of waste and public health" had deteriorated to a great extent.

They ordered the New Delhi Municipal Council to remove temporary structures and move protesters to another site at Ramlila Maidan.

Ramlila Maidan wasn't the same for protesters

Protesters weren't happy. They said Ramlila Maidan doesn't have "shade, water, food facilities, urinals" like Jantar Mantar. Moreover, it is farther from power centres. Several petitions were filed against the NGT order, including one by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan.

Government should uphold rights to protest and live peacefully: SC

SC

Government should uphold rights to protest and live peacefully: SC

The SC has now lifted the ban, ruling it is the state's responsibility to ensure people who want to live a peaceful and calm life aren't disturbed by others creating noise pollution during protests.

But rights of neither group can be taken away, it said.

"There cannot be a complete ban on holding protests at places like Jantar Mantar and Boat Club."

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