Are the duties of law enforcement officers in conflict with the right to protest of civilians?

Author: Manvi Raj, Student, University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGSIPU, New Delhi, India



Justice Bhagwati once said:

“Democracy means the government of the people by the people, it is obvious that every citizen must be entitled to participate in the democratic process and in order to enable him to intelligently exercise his rights of making a choice, free & general discussion of public matters is absolutely essential.”

Right to protest, which flows directly from the right to freedom, is an important pillar in the working of a democracy. It is not an expressed fundamental right rather an implied one. It has its importance in keeping a check over the powers of the rulers and in preventing the implementation of any such feature which is deterrent to the very soul of the country. But like any other right, it has its restrictions also. These restrictions often create a conflict between the power-holders and the right-holders, leading to violent clashes. There is a whole history available to give us proof of the issue here. How many times do we hear of clashes between the people and the police? How many times do we hear of the barbarity of police over the public? How many times do we hear of the public murdering policemen? These are some platitudes of the contemporary times. It is a common scenario in the picture of a democratic and diverse nation like India but what leads to it, needs to be critically identified to prevent such conflicts in future as much as possible to narrow down the scope of violence thus thwarting the process of converting a peaceful nation into a burning institution. Hence, a just and impartial balance between the two is of utmost importance to maintain the serenity and peace in the country.

Keywords: Right to protest, Human rights, Law enforcement officials.


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