The Karnataka High Court refused to quash criminal cases against the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and others in connection with a public protest event organized by the Congress party in the year 2022.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit observed that, "The proponents of agitational rights claim right to political protest as a right to freedom of expression and assembly. However, exercising such a form of freedom can prove costly for the society. Agitations hinder the regular movement of ordinary people."

Counsel Shathabish Shivanna appeared for the petitioner, while Addl. SPP BN Jagadeesh appeared for the respondents.

In this case, multiple petitions were filed seeking the quashing of proceedings in a crime registered against 36 accused persons. The case involved offenses under Section 143 of the IPC and Section 103 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.

The charges stemmed from a political party's protest march, disrupting traffic and demanding a minister's resignation. The accused sought quashment, arguing the lack of ingredients for the alleged offenses and political motivation behind the accusations. The State contended that the protest violated regulations, leading to obstruction and disturbance of law and order.

The High Court placed reliance on the case of Amit Sahani vs Commissioner of Police, wherein the Apex Court lent credence to justifying regulating/restricting 'agitation rights'. It was observed that, "we have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely. Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. We cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest…"

Subsequently, the petitions were dismissed. "Petitioners being relegated to the Court below, their petitions deserving dismissal, they should in all fairness go and stand before the Special Court and seek discharge from the proceedings that pend there", the court said.


Petitioner: Counsel Shathabish Shivanna

Respondents: Addl. SPP BN Jagadeesh

Cause Title: Sri Siddaramaiah vs State of Karnataka & Anr.

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