State duty-bound to maintain law & order ‘at any cost’: HC

  • | Thursday | 14th September, 2023

CHHATRAPATI SAMBHAJINAGAR: The Bombay high courts Aurangabad bench on Wednesday observed that the state was duty-bound not only to protect the right of every individual or group of people to express their aspirations, but also to maintain law and order and peace and tranquility in society, at any cost.The bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Arun R Pednekar was hearing a PIL filed by Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar-based social activist Nilesh Shinde seeking the courts direction to the state to maintain law and order and also to ensure health and well-being of members of public in the wake of recent agitations and protests at various places arising from the demand for reservations in jobs and education to the Marathas and a counter-protest against such demand.No protest or agitation being carried out for whatever reason can be permitted to assume the character of causing any law and order situation, the bench said. Every individual or group of persons has got fundamental right to protest, however, it should necessarily be by peaceful means and if there is any breach of the same, it is the bounden duty of the State to prevent such breach, the bench said while posting the PIL for next hearing on October 11We also expect that the protesters and agitators shall not indulge in any kind of activities which may even remotely pose any threat to the peace and order in the society, the bench said.Lawyer Mahesh Deshmukh, representing the petitioner, submitted that there has been a demand by a section of society for providing such reservation for quite some time. However, for the past about a fortnight, the protesters have taken recourse to certain strong measures, such as organizing dharnas and sitting on hunger strike.Deshmukh drew the courts attention to media reports relating to one such protest currently going on (by Maratha activist Manoj Jarange) at village Antarwali Sarati in Ambad taluka of Jalna district. He pointed out that the activists health was deteriorating fast and there was opposition even to providing him medical aid. There is another section of the society, which has conflicting aspirations and interests and from various corners of the State, information relating to confrontation posing threat to the law and order situation has been pouring in, he submitted.Advocate General Birendra Saraf submitted that the state was equally concerned about the situation and various efforts have been made by the authorities to prevent any untoward incident and to maintain law and order situation across the state. Saraf submitted that the state was also equally keen about the health and well-being of all and was trying its best to ensure that the law and order situation in the state was maintained.Deshmukh countered this by pointing out that incidents in the state for the last two weeks indicated lack of effort by the state authorities, resulting in vehicles being set on fire and ruckus being created at public places, causing large scale disruption in public life.The bench said, Having regard to the statement made by the Advocate General before the Court, we have no reason to believe that the state authorities shall not take appropriate action which may be warranted under law, not only to maintain peace, tranquility and the law and order but also to take care of health and well-being of all.

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