Surat and Vadodara witnessed continued imposition of Section 144

Surat and Vadodara witnessed continued imposition of Section 144

Though a draft amendment introduced by petitioners, on Wednesday, in the Gujarat High Court (HC) challenging the continuous prohibitory orders issued under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) section 144, read with certain provisions of the Gujarat Police (GP) Act, mentioned three recent orders issued in Ahmedabad city, it has been observed that Vadodara and Surat too have witnessed the same.

The High Court Wednesday acknowledged that certain prayers in the petition need to be considered, even as the state government sought for more time to file an affidavit responding to the contentions raised in the petition.

In Surat, at least eight orders under Section 144 are currently operational. One order operational from January 4 until March 3, states that without ‘reasonable cause’, men cannot sit or stand around school, college, tuition/class or women hostels, reasoning that the prohibitory order is in a bid to ensure women’s safety. The exception to this prohibitory order is applicable for those picking-up/dropping-off in autos or vans at these locations, or a worker (maid, cleaner) required at these places.

Another order, operational for the same period, also prohibits entry of outsiders to universities, colleges and schools on the ground that they impact the educational environment of these institutions.

Taking cue from the Pathankot attack where a police vehicle was allegedly used for the attack at the air force station, another order under Section 144 in Surat as well as in Vadodara prohibits sale of army uniform, insignia without necessary documentation and permits.

Another order prohibiting celebration of birthdays in public places, operational from January 7 to March 6, states, ‘It appears that in various parts of Surat city, especially in high schools and colleges, students late at night, on the pretext of celebrating birthdays, damage property while an incident also came to our notice where a person’s body was stuck with cellotape, chemicals and foam were sprayed on the body of a person and the person was beaten up… which could have lead to death.’

Another notification, effective January 7 to March 3, ordered all spa and massage parlours to be registered with the police after ‘incidents where serving intoxicating substance, sex trade and other illegal activities were reported.’

Orders issued under Section 144 in both Vadodara and Surat city also included prohibition on sale of cycle, scooter or any two-wheeler or four wheeler without identity proof and also gives the authorities power to seize the vehicle if purchase details in the form of bill is not available, either with the buyer or the seller.

Providing necessary primary facilities such as drinking water, washroom facilities, electricity is for women and girls engaged in labour work at construction sites, brick kilns, quarries, mines, etc are also a must for both the cities of Vadodara and Surat, as per orders issued under Section 144 in order to ‘provide safe environment for women’.

The mobile game PUBG, along with the internet hoax challenge of ‘Blue Whale’ continues to be banned in Surat city as per the latest notification dated January 10, operational from January 13 to March 12. The order further states that internet providers and mobile companies such as ‘Google India, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft India’ must take down links of Blue Whale challenge, PubG game and others, if found to have been shared through their platform.

The Vadodara city police website lists at least eight notifications of orders under Section 144, all eight made effective from December 18, 2019 until February 15, signed by the city police commissioner Anupamsinh Gahlaut. Orders include a prohibition on assembly of people in and around government offices such as that of the collector, district panchayat unless gathered for work purposes, thereby prohibiting unauthorised third-party agents and stouts.

Another notification by the Vadodara city police commissioner also stipulates on documentation that hotels, lodges, boarding etc must take on record for international visitors. Vadodara city police also orders under section 144 that remote-controlled camera drone or any other remote-controlled air-borne object must be registered with the police station before operating.

Notably, going by the notifications published on the website, a copy of all these notifications have been sent to the Gujarat HC registrar and the registrar of the respective district and sessions court, apart from the offices of government functionaries and departments.

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