The exemption comes in the wake of a high court order on November 25 amending its August order. The clarification came on an impleading application filed by a team of lawyers after the city’s queer community was denied permission by police to take out the Namma Pride parade on Sunday. The cops had cited the HC’s ban on marches and protests outside Freedom Park.
“It is directed that the words ‘protests, marches and dharnas’ appearing in the second line of paragraph 4 of the order dated August 1, 2022, shall be substituted with the words ‘protests, protest marches and dharnas’,” a division bench headed by Justice Alok S Aradhe said.
In August, the court had ordered: “It is further stated before this court that protests, marches and dharnas shall be permitted only at Freedom Park and the state government is under an obligation to ensure that provisions of the order of 2021, which had been framed in exercise of the powers under section 31(1)(o) of the Act of 1963, are complied with in letter and spirit.”
In the clarification, the bench stated: “It is also clarified that the state government is at liberty to deal with the applications filed before it seeking permission under the Licensing and Regulation of Protests, Demonstrations and Protest Marches (Bengaluru City) Order, 2021, in accordance with the aforesaid order.”
‘A celebratory march’
Mohammed Afeef, a lawyer representing the Coalition for Sex Workers and Sexual Minority Rights (CSMR), which has been organising Namma Pride for 15 years, told TOI his team filed an impleading application in a suo motu PIL that had been disposed of in August.
“We went in with the argument that Namma Pride is not a protest but a celebratory march. The idea is to interact with the public to normalise mindsets towards the LGBTQIA+ community. The idea of our procession is defeated if we are relegated to a cordoned-off space,” Afeef said.
Though the amendment to the order was made on November 25, CSMR had already made preparations for Sunday’s Namma Pride and did not put off the event to accommodate the change. “We would have had to apply for police permission again and wait another few days. Our logistics had been planned out according to the cops’ initial refusal of permission, and we would not have been able to make changes on under two weeks’ notice,” said Ayaan Syed, who is part of CSMR’s organising committee.