Article 19 of the Indian Constitution imbibes the fundamental right of speech and expression and the subsequent freedom of expressing it in a legal manner. This right is exercisable by all and should be done so in a bonafide manner in fulfilling the purpose of such expression. Hearing a petition filed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to transfer investigation of FIR’s filed against the organisation and its members to an independent investigative agency, The Bench, consisting of Justice A.K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, answered in the affirmative the interpretation of Article 19(1)(a) to public demonstrations.
The judgement, delivered by Justice Ashok Bhushan, clearly highlighted the plight faced by the general public to demonstrations that are political, religious or social in objective and which have a detrimental effect on the public. It was further elaborated that a demonstration
“might take the form of an assembly and even then the intention is to convey to the person or authority to whom the communication is intended the feelings of the group which assembles. From the very nature of things a demonstration may take various forms; “it may be noisy and disorderly”, for instance stone-throwing by a crowd may be cited as an example of a violent 37 and disorderly demonstration and this would not obviously be within Article 19(1)(a) or (b)”.
Relying on various precedents which have previously dealt with the issue of volatile demonstrations and freedom of speech, the Apex Court affirmed that all citizens have an inherent constitutional right to enforce their freedom of speech and expression subject to the diverse utilisation of that fundamental right in a violent and unlawful manner, this right becomes an offence which is punishable by law.
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