GUWAHATI, Sept 18 - In a major relief to the people facing hardships caused by regular protests and picketing near the Dighalipukhuri, the Gauhati High Court has directed the authorities not to allow any such activities on the southern end of the historic tank, in three months from now.
Hearing a PIL moved by the Lawyers� Association, Guwahati (LAG), a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Singh and Justice Manojit Bhuyan also directed that even if permission for organising such programmes is granted within the interim period of three months, the authorities must ensure that the main thoroughfare remains free from any blockade and that the traffic rules are not violated.
The administration should identify an alternative location for such gatherings within the stipulated time.
The PIL, filed by LAG against frequent protests and picketing near the Dighalipukhuri, was introduced in the Gauhati High Court on September 11 and the matter was fixed for hearing on September 16. The respondents included the State government, Kamrup the (Metro) Deputy Commissioner, the Guwahati Police Commissioner and the Central Zone DCP.
The petition was filed alleging violation of Article 19 (1)(d) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The counsel from the respondents produced a copy of written instruction from the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner, which mentioned the steps taken by the authorities concerned to shift the site for holding dharnas, etc. from Dighalipukhuri to another suitable location specifically identified for the purpose.
Frequent protests, public gatherings and demonstrations at the Dighalipukhuri have become a menace to the common people and school and office goers. Due to the traffic blockades caused by protestors at that particular area, flow of traffic to the Guwahati Railway Station, the General Post Office, the Gauhati High Court and the CJM Court, the Deputy Commissioner�s office and several adjacent schools and colleges gets entirely snapped, which had caught the attention of LAG.
�We are extremely happy with the court�s decision and believe that it will bring the much-needed relief to thousands of common people who use this route frequently and are often left in the lurch due to a traffic standstill caused by such gatherings,� LAG president Sailen Das and general secretary Amal Chandra Baishya said.
Senior counsel Nilay Dutta, appearing on behalf of the lawyers� body, stated that the entire process of identifying and allocating an alternative place should not go beyond three months.
�Under the common law, public right exist over highways and public streets and it covers the right to hold meeting� so long the rights of others and lawful orders and directions of the authorities regulating the traffic are not infringed,� the court order stated, asking the authorities to take steps for free flow of traffic and strict adherence to the traffic rules.