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Protests, public gatherings prohibited due to surge in Covid cases, Delhi govt tells HC

The submission was made during the hearing of pleas by AAP MLAs Raghav Chadha and Atishi Marlena seeking permission to protest outside the residences of Amit Shah and Anil Baijal.

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New Delhi: The AAP government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) has prohibited public gatherings, including for festival celebrations and protests, in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The submission was made before Justice Prathiba M Singh during the hearing of the pleas by AAP MLAs Raghav Chadha and Atishi Marlena seeking permission to protest outside the residences of Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt Governor Anil Baijal.

Delhi government additional standing counsel Gautam Narayan told the court that the Delhi DMA or DDMA has issued an order on March 23 prohibiting all public gatherings in the national capital in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Delhi reported 1,101 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest in over three months, while four people succumbed to the disease.

During the brief hearing on Wednesday, the court asked the lawyers for the two MLAs whether they were still pressing their pleas challenging the denial of permission to protest as ‘circumstances have changed”.

The lawyers for the two MLAs said there have been some subsequent developments and therefore, they wanted to file some fresh affidavit.

When the court asked the Delhi government what was the current situation regarding public gatherings in the city, Narayan said the DDMA’s March 23 order prohibits the same due to the rise in coronavirus cases.

The AAP government had in January told the court that Raghav and Atishi cannot protest outside the homes of Shah and Baijal as political gatherings were prohibited by the DDMA till January 31.

On December 18, last year the police told the court that permissions were denied to the two AAP MLAs on the basis of orders passed by DDMA prohibiting large gatherings in the city in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

It had also said that in accordance with a Supreme Court order, it has issued a standing order prohibiting protests and dharnas in residential areas in the national capital.

Both AAP MLAs wanted to stage ‘dharnas’ outside the residences of Shah and Baijal on December 13, 2020 to protest against the alleged misappropriation of funds by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, but they were denied permission.

Both were detained by police on December 13, 2020 along with some other AAP leaders, for attempting to protest at the two sites without the necessary permission.

They have sought quashing of the December 12, 2020, decision of Delhi Police rejecting their request to hold a protest outside the residences of Shah and Baijalnother reason cited by Delhi Police in January for denying permission to the two AAP leaders was the prohibitory orders issued under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for the entire central Delhi where the two residences are located.

Also read: Ahead of festivals, Delhi L-G calls for random Covid testing at airport, railway stations


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