HIMMAT LAL V. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE
Himmat Lal v. Commissioner of Police AIR 1973 SC 87
- Whether the Powers of the Police Commissioner under Bombay Police Act, 1951 violative of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens to hold public meetings under Article 19(1)(b) of the Indian Constitution?
- The State cannot by law abridge or take away the right of assembly by prohibiting assembly on every public street or public place. The State can only make regulations in aid of the right of assembly of each citizen and can only impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order.
- The appellant made an application to the Police Commissioner. Ahmedabad, for permission to hold a public meeting near Panch Kuva Darwaja, Ahmedabad in connection with the All India students’ strike sponsored by the All India Students Federation.
- This permission was refused because the application was not sent 5 days before the day of the meeting as required by notification of the Commissioner of Police. The appellant was also informed that “holding a meeting with or without a loudspeaker, without the permission, amounts to an offense.”
- After a few days, the appellant also applied for permission to hold another public meeting well before time.
- The Deputy Police Commissioner informed him that the permission “cannot be granted since a meeting was held earlier under similar permission whereafter certain elements had indulged in pioneering and caused mischief to private and public properties.
- He was also informed that “given the present position, it is not possible to grant such permission to maintain law and order.”
- Therefore, the Appellant filed a writ petition praying for the quashing of the orders of the police, declaring section 33(O) read with section 33 (Y) of the Bombay Police Act Void, declaring Rule 7 to 11, 14, and 15 of the Rules for Procession and Public Meetings void and to declare that Appellant should be allowed to conduct public meetings without obtaining the permission from the authorities.
- The Supreme Court held that Section 33(1)(o) is not in violation of Article 19(1)(b). It enables the Commissioner to make rules to regulate the assemblies and processions. Without such rules, in crowded public streets, it would be impossible for citizens to enjoy their various rights. Indeed Section 33(1)(o) may be said to have been enacted in aid of the rights under Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(d) of the Indian Constitution.
- It also held that Rule 7 of the Rules framed by the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, is void as it infringes Article 19(1)(b) of the Constitution.