Kochi: Kerala High court on Thursday struck down the
provision of a government Act permitting holding of public
meetings, demonstrations and processions on
roadsides and declared it as "unconstitutional, inoperative
and void", but allowed conduct of religious and national
festivals on road margins.
A Division bench, comprising justice CN Ramachandran Nair
and Justice PS Gopinathan, declared as unconstitutional sect
5 (1)c of The Publicways (Restriction of Assemblies and
Processions) Act 2011, which came into effect on February 18
last year. The order was issued on a batch of petitions
challenging the validity of the Act.
The act, brought in by the previous CPI(M)-led LDF in the
wake of prohibition imposed by the High Court in conducting
public meetings rpt meetings, demonstrations and processions
on road margins, had been passed unanimously in the Assembly.
According to 5(1) c, processions can be conducted with
reasonable restrictions with prior permission of district
police chief.The bench declared this provision
unconstitutional, inoperative and void.
However, the court did not interfere into 5(1) a, and 5(1)
b permitting religious and national festivals on roads.
The bench held that the festivals should be conducted on
one side of the road.
The judges opined that "so far as as Attukal Pongala
(festival) is concerned it cannot be contained in the temple
compound or places around it.There is nothing wrong in the
pongala lines stretching to Kanyakumari in south or go
straight in the opposite direction to the National highway to
Attingal or beyond". But full road blockades should not be
permitted, the court held.