Declaration of prohibited zones challenged at SC

Kathmandu, July 5

Senior Advocate Dinesh Tripathi today filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court against government’s decision to prohibit the public from protesting at Maitighar Mandala and other sites in Kathmandu valley.

In his public interest litigation, Tripathi has stated that civil rights and freedoms are at the core of democracy and people have the right to have adequate opportunity to express their voice.

District Administration Office, Kathmandu, had on April 15 designated Tinkune open ground, Bhuikhel open ground, Pepsi Cola sports ground, Sano Gaucharan soccer ground, open place in front of Social Welfare Council at Lainchaur and Sifalchaur, Gaushala, as places where people could protest or organise assemblies, a decision that prohibited people from protesting at Maitighar Mandala and some other places popularly chosen by protesters.

The petitioner has urged the court to quash this decision of the DAO and sought an interim order against the decision.

The petitioner has argued that fundamental rights cannot not be arbitrarily curtailed unless there are compelling reasons of Nepal’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, national independence, cordial relations between federal units and public order. “Even in these situations, the government can curtail fundamental rights only by enacting laws,” the petitioner said. He stated that   unnecessary restriction on fundamental rights was a violation of the rule of law.

The petitioner said that the constitution and some key international laws prohibited restrictions on citizens’ right to peaceful assembly.

“The government’s decision to prohibit protests in all areas where protests had been traditionally organised is prima facie a violation of the constitution.  Fundamental rights are inalienable. The constitution does not allow anybody to designate place for organising protests and assemblies,” Tripathi has stated in his petition.

The government, he added, designated places in an attempt to minimise the impacts of protests and it amounted to an undeclared state of emergency. The first hearing of the case has been scheduled for tomorrow.

Tripathi has named the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Home Affairs and District Administration, Kathmandu, as defendants.