Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Prashant Mishra has pulled up the vacation bench for behaving like a ‘De Facto Chief Justice’ and acting beyond its limits vis-à-vis its recent order on GO-I relating to curbs on public meetings on roads and highways in AP.
The vacation bench belittled the position of Chief Justice by taking up the case and issuing an interim stay on GO-1, the chief justice pointed out.
The high court refused to extend the interim order on GO-1 further and would hear the case on Tuesday.
A division bench of Chief Justice Prashant Mishra heard the case here on Monday and pointedly asked the vacation bench what was the urgency involved in filing the lunch motion and taking up the hearing in the GO-1 case. It further asked whether the petitioner had staged a dharna or protest with a demand that they be allowed to file a lunch motion in the court.
If every vacation bench in the high court took up any matter saying it was important, what would happen to the institution of judiciary, the CJ asked, and opined that “every vacation court judge would become a Chief Justice in case such a practice is allowed to be continued.”
The CJ sharply criticised the vacation bench for taking up the hearing in the case and said he did not see any urgency about the case. “I know everything that is happening and how things happened on that day when the vacation bench issued the interim stay.”
State government counsel argued that the government had issued the GO – 1 imposing curbs on public meetings and rallies, “in a clear balancing of fundamental rights of the citizens and public interest.”
“No citizen is entitled to claim that he has a vested fundamental right to conduct a meeting on the public road,” he stressed.
Counsel submitted that the state government had not banned any public meeting on public roads and only regulated the conduct of such meetings by issuing some guidelines and norms. Counsel said no ban was imposed on processions and roadshows and that the petitioner also did not contend that there was a ban on public processions and road shows.
Counsel submitted that the state government appointed a commission of inquiry on the recent stampede deaths and it was waiting for the report. “There is no merit in the contention of the petitioner that the GO infringed upon the fundamental rights of the people to speak or assemble.”
A few days ago, the Supreme Court refused to interfere in the case and directed the regular bench of AP HC to take up the hearing.
The state government had issued GO-1 after the death of 11 persons in a stampede at Kandukur in Nellore district and in Guntur during the meeting held by TD chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu.