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Right to Protest Peacefully

India is a Democratic Republic. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution signifies and behold this meaning vehemently. Being a democratic republic, India has its anecdotes of active citizenship embodied in fundamental rights for its citizens. Notwithstanding anything that goes beyond the reasonability of the constitution, citizens do have the rights to express themselves in the manner they choose.

Experiences of our freedom fighters in active protests against imperialism is a fictional classic in itself. However, India since independence is a witness of agitations/protests being tagged as sedition, disruption or anti-establishment per se. At the crucial juncture of such kind, the role of Indian Judiciary kicks in and for good. Article 19, originally does not introduce the word 'protest' but it's implications and narrations through courts it does inculcate within the context of freedom of 'speech' & 'expression'. The right to peaceful protest is part of fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. 'Peaceful' implies adherence to the restrictions mentioned under Art-19(2) read along with Art-51A as it's guiding principle. Reasonable restrictions under art 19(2) enables individuals to differentiate between permissible limits of dissent and disruption.

In Ramlila Maidan,2012 case, SC held that "Citizens have a fundamental right to assembly and peaceful protest that cannot be taken away by an arbitrary executive or legislative action". However, the freedom enshrined in the constitution does have it's limitations. “Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone" the bench held constituting Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, stating unequivocally that a public place cannot be occupied indefinitely. On a similar pretext, Farmers protest has been launched against three farm bills. The agitation is for the centre to consider it, thus it seems like farmers vs government protest. In a vibrant democracy, that India achieves to be, the constant movement of ideas and ideology is required to harness the constitutional principles that our forefathers thought to see India of future cherish.

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