The Article ‘Right to Peaceful Protest’ highlights the importance of peaceful protest and even Indian historical movements also reveal the emphasis of the core concept. The author through landmark judgments has explained that the freedom of speech, expression, and assembly cannot be curtailed. Article 19 of the Indian Constitution has been referred to make this topic more vivid… Read More »

The Article ‘Right to Peaceful Protest’ highlights the importance of peaceful protest and even Indian historical movements also reveal the emphasis of the core concept. The author through landmark judgments has explained that the freedom of speech, expression, and assembly cannot be curtailed. Article 19 of the Indian Constitution has been referred to make this topic more vivid and fascinating to the readers. It is the duty of every responsible citizen to exercise their rights when appropriate, rather than continually criticizing government acts and policies, which harm the country and cause social unrest.

A Brief Introduction: Right to Peaceful Protest

A nation can only function properly if its citizens are protected from arbitrary government actions and have their rights and liberties protected by law. The Indian Constitution protects the fundamental rights of its citizens since the laws, norms, and legal systems are created to protect their interests and keep them safe and content in a civilized society. Civilians have the right to disagree, criticize, and share their thoughts with the government in a peaceful manner.

Indian freedom fighters have always employed nonviolent protests to win their country’s independence. Gandhi Ji thought that nonviolent protests were the most effective way to protect the rights of Indian citizens and, ultimately, to achieve India’s independence from the British.

Historiography demonstrates that nonviolent protests are the most effective way to express your point and oppose a regime. If you want your protest to be heard, you must do so in accordance with the law. The protest loses its meaning and purpose if you do not.

People can organize a peaceful rally if their views differ from those of the government or if they seek more rules. People make laws, and everyone has the right to express themselves freely.

The freedom to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, like the knot on a democratic balloon. It, like inflatable knots, maintains the health of democracy. Indians have voiced their emotions through nonviolent protests for centuries. Protests and conflicts with citizens will always be a presumptive right for governments whose top goal is defending the rights of their citizens, preserving democracy, and promoting the dignity of their citizens.

Historical Reference

Numerous international treaties establish the freedom to demonstrate the protection of human rights and people everywhere.

According to Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, Indian citizens have a fundamental right to “freedom of speech and expression” against the government. This includes the freedom to peacefully assemble in public.

As a result of the Indian independence struggle, Indians engaged mostly in nonviolent protests. In 1915, Gandhi initiated a nonviolent protest movement known as satyagraha. This movement was founded on truth-based nonviolent resistance. The Indian “aazadi” movement began with a nonviolent, peaceful protest march.

These historic movements have triggered large-scale protests not only in India but globally. As we all know, history repeats itself. At the beginning of each of these demonstrations, there was no violence, but by the end, there was considerable bloodshed. With the actions of just one or two individuals, a peaceful protest can quickly turn into a riot.

Takeaways from the Supreme Court Judgment

1. Amit Sahni v. Commissioner of Police & Others

Shaheen Bagh protests are wrong, and the government should do something to keep protesters from getting in the way or blocking protest areas. The Supreme Court made this clear in Amit Sahni v. Commissioner of Police & Others.

A three-judge bench made up of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari ruled that peaceful protests against laws cannot take over public streets and spaces indefinitely.

If we want democracy and different voices to be heard, there must be specific places for demonstrations that are against something. There was no protest in an undesignated area. Instead, a public route was closed, which caused a lot of trouble for drivers. In its ruling, the panel said,

“We cannot accept the petitioners’ claim that an unlimited number of people can demonstrate at any time.”

True democracy is the right to oppose and advocate for alternative viewpoints. First appeared in a South African newspaper in 1906. Gandhi Ji took it from a South African entry. Satyagraha overcame passivity. Satyagraha means nonviolence. Its power lay in seeking truth. The satyagraha deserved to pay the price. Toiling brought penalties. The court rules peaceful protest is a constitutional right. According to the Court,

Freedom of speech, assembly, and peaceful dharnas are the core democratic principles. We have the right to criticize the government’s decisions and actions on any social or national issue. The state must recognize and promote these rights. It is a clear violation of international law for a state to use its executive or legislative powers to impede or obstruct the exercise of such rights.

It is now part of the right to free speech and assembly. The State must also facilitate the availability of this right exercise. Recent incidents show how the political elite weakens and otioses these liberties.

2. Re: Ramlila Maidan Incident v. Home Secretary, Union Of India & Bears

Team Anna struggled to secure a conspicuous protest site. The cops used force to keep protests small. Deliberate police use of discretion has discouraged people from holding rallies at large open spaces like Ramlila Maidan and other strategically chosen areas. So has the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s verdict confirms Baba Ramdev’s nonviolent rally. The High Court said that Baba Ramdev’s devotees were patiently waiting in over two-kilometer-long lineups. The cops could have simply stopped people at the gate. No effort was made.

They appear to be following directions from the government, and their current attitude on the crowd size is a simple afterthought. The record before this Court shows that there was no emergency.”

This includes those who were not given reasonable notice. Injuries and deaths resulted from the use of water cannons and lathi charges.

The Supreme Court upheld constitutional rights. They promote nonviolent dissent in India. The court’s ruling and the law’s proclamation will go a long way in protecting the right to dissent. It’s all the Court’s fault.

The verdict then changes. Demonstrators must observe all lawful orders. No affirmative action or coercive eviction was used here. Why should the protesters obey? A demonstrator who was exercising his right to free speech was charged with “contributory negligence.” a tort law notion. It can’t be used to limit a basic right. To behave in one’s own best interest and take reasonable precautions to avoid contributing to the injury. It is a Tort defence. Its use to impede fundamental rights is unjustified.

3. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan v. Union of India

However, no basic right is inviolable, and individuals must enjoy their rights without endangering the rights of others. The National Green Tribunal held in this case that there is no right to demonstrate or protest on a particular site. On Jantar Mantar Road in New Delhi, protesters gathered to voice their discontent with the noise and pollution they were producing. To protect the rights of demonstrators, the Supreme Court ordered the building of a framework that restricts the venue’s use for this purpose.

Landmark Judgements

Notable is the Supreme Court’s decision that protesting, like speech and assembly, is a fundamental right. When a protester’s right to protest is revoked, he or she must accept it with humility or risk prosecution for aiding and abetting police abuse.

1. Bijoe Emmanuel v. the State of Kerala (1986)3 SCC 615

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled “on appeal, that their fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(a) could not be violated.” Article 19(1)(a) specifies that only legislation and the Constitution have the authority to limit rights, not the president.

2. Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras (AIR 1950 SC 124)

The right to free press has been highlighted. In this case, the court ruled that removing someone’s rights under Article 19(1) is unconstitutional if (a) it does not threaten the security of the state (a).

Courts have made more opportunities for free speech and expression, and each case is decided on its own merits. The reasonable boundaries in the constitution (Article 19(2)–19(6)) can only be used to monitor the law because there is no commonly accepted, accurate, or normal standard to utilize as a benchmark.


Democracies rely on citizen autonomy, which is prevalent in this new India’s communities. As peaceful protests were the first step toward freedom, we must now consider them as a powerful tool for safeguarding and exercising our rights, ensuring the nation, its people, and society’s welfare.

It is feasible to show that peaceful protest is a fundamental right and the lifeblood of democracy. Protests are a symbol of a free, democratic society where people’s views are heard and decisions are made accordingly. India is a democracy, and its inhabitants have the right to peacefully demonstrate and assemble. To avoid violent protests endangering the public, the administration must address some key issues.

While limiting demonstrations is an important step in preventing misuse, the state must also ensure that individuals do not abuse their freedom to demonstrate. So the state must establish a balance between the two to restore social stability. Input from citizens should be welcomed. On the other hand, protests are a way for the people to draw attention to government actions or policies they dislike or demand new norms.

For your own rights and the country, but do not infringe on other people’s rights or threaten their lives. “Stand up for the truth, whether it benefits you or not.”


  1. V. Venkatesan, Supreme Court’s Shaheen Bagh Judgment will lead to fresh curbs on the Right of Peaceful Protest, Available Here
  2. Can The State Restrict A Citizen’s Right To Protest, Available Here
  3. Right to Protest,
    Available Here
  4. Rangin Pallav Tripathy, Why the Supreme Court’s assault on the right to protest is fundamentally undemocratic, Available Here

Updated On 18 May 2022 5:30 AM GMT
Vartika Kulshrestha

Vartika Kulshrestha

Content Writer and Research Intern

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