Lucknow, Apr 4 (PTI) Expressing concern over protests being allowed in the city and the problems being faced by people, the Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, principal secretary for Home and DGP to apprise it on April 10 on steps taken to redress the problem.

The court has also directed the state’s top officials to indicate an alternate site for protests on the city’s outskirts and inform it about the “concrete” steps taken for ensuring no such protests are held in the heart of Lucknow and on highways.

It asked what measures were being taken to check protesters, who try to hold the general public to ransom, of any such protests take place.

Indicating government authorities to, in fact, ban public protests and stirs in city areas, a bench of justices Vikram Nath and Abdul Moin took the government to task for its “lethargy” to take strict action against agitators.

When the court was intimated that the Rama Bai Rally Sthal was earmarked for protests, but protesters were more interested in highlighting their grievances by holding stirs the city, the bench said, ” Such protest cannot be permitted to be held any further in the heart of the city, whereby causing inconvenience to the general public.” Taking cognisance of a news report, it said, “Public protests may be a form of dissent and a form of indicating the dissatisfaction with government policies and a peaceful protest would show the dissatisfaction of a particular segment of the public towards their demands or certain government policies.” The report was published in an English daily on March 28 about the B.PEd (Bachelors of Physical Education) protesters stalling traffic for three hours on the Vidhan Sabha Marg.

This, according to the newspaper report, had cascading effect on traffic on Ashok Marg, Daarul Shafa Marg and Lal Bagh, Parivartan Chowk, causing serious problem to school children, college students and office goers.

The court took cognisance on the day the report was published and this order was uploaded yesterday by the HC.

“At the same time, the said protest cannot be permitted to put to inconvenience the general public, including school children, the elderly and the infirm including disruption in the traffic on account of the said protest.

“The persons stuck in the traffic jams can include school children, patients and others. Citizens have died because of not receiving medical assistance in time, mothers have delivered babies on roads in traffic jams, school children and even healthy people have fainted while stuck in traffic jams, what to say about the elderly and infirm,” the bench said in its order.

“It (the court) is totally astonished with the callous attitude of the local administration in, firstly, permitting such protests in the heart of the city and secondly, not doing anything to control the said protests with a firm hand,” it said The bench was disappointed that no action was taken by the government to control such protests on roads and highways that had also caused inconvenience to people.

“Difficulties are also experienced by people travelling on highways where road blocks are put by protesters. This leads to traffic jams and inconvenience… including obstructing ambulances,” the bench noted.

“It is not that the protests take place in the dark, but in broad day light through-out the day. It is a surprise that the same is allowed to happen in the presence of and right in front of the eyes of the administration, who wait and watch as mute spectators unfazed and unaffected,” the court said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.