KATHMANDU, July 17: The Supreme Court Monday stayed the government’s decision to restrict demonstrations or public gatherings in the capital including at renowned Maitighar Mandala.
A division bench of justices Om Prakash Mishra and Kedar Prasad Chalise issued the stay order following hearings conducted on Monday. The SC has maintained that Kathmandu District Administration Office’s move to restrict demonstrations or public gatherings is against the spirit of the Local Administration Act, 1972 and also constitutes a breach of the freedom of assembly and speech guaranteed by the constitution.
Continuing the stay order of July 6 issued by a single bench of Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, the division added that all issues raised during the hearings will be resolved at the final hearings of the case at a future date.
During the hearings on Monday, the government furnished its decision file and argued that there was no need for apex court intervention because the government has designated areas for protest activities in the capital, keeping in mind the needs of road traffic and the maintaining of public peace and security.
Senior advocates Shambhu Thapa, Badri Bahadur Karki, Harihar Dahal and Dinesh Tripathi among others argued on behalf of the petitioner, stating that the decision of the government violated the constitutionally enshrined freedom of assembly and speech. Hence the decision could not be given continuity.
A few days back, a division bench of justices Hari Krishna Karki and Dambar Bahadur Shahi had directed the government to furnish its decision and clarify the basis for blanket ban on protests in the capital. The government furnished the decision file during the hearings Monday.
Challenging the decision of the government, senior advocate Tripathi had filed a writ petition naming the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the district administration office as defendants.
The petitioner sought the apex court’s stay order to suspend implementation of the ban order of April 15.
The ban was imposed by Chief District Officer Kedar Nath Sharma citing Section 6(3) of the Local Administration Act, 1972 and on the basis of the recommendation of the District Security
The order banned the staging of various protests including sit-ins and picketings and argued that such activities would unduly favor the staging of protests by refugees and also increase the chances of violence against women at such occasions.
The petitioner claimed that the protest ban violated the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of assembly as enshrined in Article 16, 17(1)(2) and 18 of the constitution, and sought apex court intervention through an extraordinary order as per Article 46 and 133(2) and (3).