Ramlila crackdown: Jaitley welcome SC verdict
New Delhi: BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Sunday
welcomed the Supreme Court judgement on crackdown on Ramdev's
supporters but said the charge of "contributory negligence" on
the protesters needs to be debated and reconsidered as it
amounts to surrender of the right to protest.
In an article, Jaitley said the apex court judgement lays
a "landmark law" as it upholds the right to protest in a
peaceful way as a fundamental right of speech and Assemble.
"However, it shakes the foundation of the fundamental
right by laying down a highly doubtful proposition that once
the right to protest is denied, the protester must meekly
accept the denial or run the risk of a contributory negligence
to the police oppression," he said.
The Supreme Court has held the protesters responsible for
"contributory negligence" and asked Ramdev's foundation -
Bharat Swabhiman Trust - to pay 25 per cent of the
compensation to the dead and the injured.
"This part of the judgement requires to be extensively
debated and possibly reconsidered," Jaitley said.
The eminent lawyer said this charge by the court against
Ramdev and his supporters undoes the advantage of an otherwise
"If a protester is within his constitutional rights to
organise a peaceful protest, he is equally within his rights
not to accept an illegal order denying his right to protest.
He runs the risk of being punished if the order is held to be
lawful," Jaitley said.
He insisted that a citizen cannot be compelled to
abdicate his fundamental rights merely because the state
decides to restrict his right to protest.
Jaitley said the verdict is understood to mean that every
time a person's fundamental right to protest is intercepted by
the state, he must immediately comply with the order or run
the risk of being liable for contributory negligence.
"Admittedly, neither the imposition of section 144 in
this case nor the withdrawal of permission or the manner of
forcible eviction were lawful (in Ramdev's case). Why should
the protesters have accepted such an order? How then can the
principle of contributory negligence be imposed on a protester
who was exercising his fundamental right to protest?" he
Jaitley defined contributory negligence as a defence
where a person who is wronged could have acted in his own
interest and taken due care and caution so that not to
contribute to the injury.
"Its application to restrict the exercise of fundamental
right is wholly unwarranted and legally untenable...It cannot
be used to dilute the width and exercise of a fundamental
right," the BJP leader said.