HC Challenges Arbitrary State Power Under 144 CrPC

SRINAGAR: The High Court has issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir Government and Police on a petition filed challenging the illegal application of Section 144 CrPC in Jammu and Kashmir.

The notice has been issued to Home Department, J&K DGP, DC Srinagar and SHO Kothibagh. 

The immediate impetus for the petition was the arbitrary police ban on the Pt. Rughonath Vaishnavi Annual Talk, where eminent historian Prof. Mridu Rai was expected to speak on “Languages of violence, Language of justice: The State and Insurgent Kashmir”.

In a statement a spokesman of JKCCS said the Government and police, in contravention to all laws in place, including the Constitution, have sought to intervene, harass and disrupt all parts of public and private life in Jammu and Kashmir. “Section 144 is used in Jammu and Kashmir to curb all dissent and expression. As per law, whether under the Police Act, or Section 144 CrPC, the police and administration have restricted powers that must be used with great responsibility. They would have no legal authority to intervene in an event being held in a private hotel. Further, they would also have no legal authority to intervene in a public programme, for example in a park, which does not cause any law and order, traffic or other such problems. Yet, Section 144 has been used in a permanent, general and ex-parte manner, despite the Supreme Court declaring such usage as illegal exercise of power,” he said.

“Since 1989, based on available information, Section 144 has been permanently in place in Srinagar. Further, no notice or opportunity for contestation is ever given to the public. Finally, it is a general prohibition against, it would appear, all activities – public or private,” he said.

“The petition seeks a quashing of the applicable Section 144 CrPC orders, and clear guidelines for future use. Further, as interim relief, it is sought that events at private venues be allowed to continue without hindrance, and that the government make public present, and past, Section 144 CrPC orders. The matter has been listed on 16 December 2014,” he added.

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