The Karnataka High Court has made it clear that its August 1 order restricting protests, marches and dharanas to Freedom Park in Bangalore only does not apply to celebration marches.
After police denied permission for the ‘Pride March’, a division bank Judges Alok Aradhe and S Vishwajith Shetty clarified that the words ‘protests, marches and dharanas’ in its August order be replaced by the words ‘protests, protest marches and dharanas’.
Therefore, it removed the application submitted by the Coalition for Sex Workers and Sexual Minority Rights, which holds the annual Namma Pride March in Bangalore. It also clarified that the State Government is free to process applications submitted to it for permission under the Licensing and Regulation of Protests, Demonstrations and Protest Marches (Bangalore City) Order, 2021.
Lead lawyer Aditya Sondhi who appeared on behalf of the applicant had argued that the applicant was not a party to the suo-motu public interest litigation which, in effect, imposes a blanket ban on protests, marches and dharnas anywhere in Bangalore except Freedom Park. Pride marches are annual walks by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and all who support their rights to equality and dignity around the world.
He said, “For the last 14 years, this walk has been carried out peacefully without any public order problem. The idea is for the community to move away from the daily experience of ostracism and rejection and show the world that there is nothing wrong with being LGBTGIQ+. In fact, it is an identity that can and should be proudly asserted.“
Furthermore, he said, “The Idea of Pride is to go out and celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community and the country by walking down public roads for a short and reasonable amount of time. The act of walking allows the general public to see the community, interact with its members, and through the interaction, learn about the community. Being confined to a space without allowing the public to see it and raising public awareness about the community defeats the essential purpose of the pride program itself.“
The application said that on November 4, the organization applied for permission to hold Namma Pride at the licensing authority procession to be held on November 27. However, on November 21, the authority issued the contested notice refusing the license for the procession, based on the interim order of the Superior Court of Justice of March 3.
It was stated that the final order of the High Court is limited to protests, marches and dharnas. The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression and the right to assemble peacefully under article 19 (1) (a) and (b) and the issued police notice is a flagrant violation of it.
Case Title: Suo-Motu v. Karnataka State
Case No: WP 5781/2021
Appearance: Principal Counsel Aditya Sondhi for Counsel Mohammed Afeef for the applicant.
Prathima Honnapura, Additional Government Advocate for Defendants #1-4.