Procession; Satyabadi Swain Vs. Officer-In-Charge [Orissa High Court, 29-02-1968]

Police Act, 1861 – S. 30 – Orissa Police Manual – Rr. 23 & 54 (d) – Procession License – Right of a party to take out processions is subject to restrictions. 

Equivalent citation: 1968 CriLJ 1519


S. Barman, C.J. and S. Ray, J.

29 February, 1968

Satyabadi Swain v. Officer-In-Charge And Ors.


S. Barman, C.J.

1. The point involved in this writ petition is whether in the circumstances hereinafter stated -under

Section 30 of the Police Act, 1861 (Act 5 of 1861)

read with

Rules 23 and 54(d) of the Orissa Police Manual

restrictive conditions can he laid in a procession license forbidding the movement of a procession to certain area in a town, that is, to the extent of prohibiting the procession from moving beyond a particular spot in the town in view of the apprehension of the Magistrate of a serious breach of the peace resulting in rioting and bloodshed, as reported to him by the Police.

2. In Cuttack town, there is a road called Mahtab Road between Taldanda Canal in the east and Dolmundi Chak on the west. There is an ESSO Petrol pump on the Mahatab Road stated to be about 600 yards from Dolmundi Chak. The petitioner represents the residents of Sankarpur village on the eastern side nearer the Taldanda Canal. They are being opposed by the residents of Haripur village near Dolmundi Chak on the west. There are also intervenesrepresenting the residents of the area between ESSO pump and Haripur village also opposing the petitioner’s application.

3. It is claimed on behalf of the petitioner that there is a custom of bringing every year the DeityGanesh Mahdafrom Sankarpur village upto Dolmundi Chak on the west along the Mahtab Road stated to be with the object of enabling the devotees to have a last Darshan of the Deity before immersion; the religions sentiment is that the Deity bestows benedictory looks on the devotees; and then they take back the Deity to the Taldanda Canal and have the immersion ceremony there; all these are said to be according to the religious custom.

4. In 1986, a license is stated to have been given to the petitioners, for a procession to come, enter the Mahtab Road, go up to the Dolmundi Chak and then return to Taldanda Canal area – all as directed in the said license. It is said that there was obstruction from the people of Haripur village and the procession had to return leaving the Deity at ESSO petrol pump station. There, after, the petitioners applied to the Magistrate and ultimately on the intervention of the local authorities the Deity was under sufficient Police protection brought to the Taldanda Canal for the immersion ceremony. The matter rested there in 1966.

5. The following year in 1967, on or about September 20/21, the villagers of Sankarpur applied for a license. The immersion ceremony in that year was to take place on September 24, 1967.

6. On October 12, 1967 the petitioner Satyabadi Swain, on behalf of the villagers of Sankarpur made an application to the Additional District Magistrate. Cuttack praying that the Police of the concerned Police Station may be directed to issue a procession license to Satyabadi Swain allowing him to take his Ganesh Medha procession upto Dolmundi crossing and then back for immersion. The purpose of the Medhas being taken upto the end of Mahtab Road on the west – that is upto Dolmundi crossing-was stated to be that, according to the religious belief, the devotees of the said locality wished to hare a final Dassan of the Deities. The petitioner’s complaint was that he applied to the Sadar Police for issue of a procession license for taking this year (1967) Ganesh Medha (deity) of Sankarpur village, for immersion, in a procession on its usual route; the Circle Inspector, Sadar Police Station, did not issue a procession license allowing the procession to be taken upto Dolmundi crossing, and as a result Ganesh Medha had not been immersed as yet and the religious feelings of the people had been seriously wounded; that it was illegal on the part of the police to take the decision themselves, without referring the matter, under the Rules, to the Magistrate in case breach of the peace was apprehended; further it was also illegal on the part of the Police not to protect the fundamental right of a citizen to perform his religious rites and to use any public road for fear of some miscreants. In the petition the petitioner undertook that there would be no disturbance from the side of the people of Sankarpur in the said procession and that the petitioner was ready to abide by any terms that may be imposed on him to take the procession upto Dolmundi crossing.

7. On the said application the Additional Magistrate made the following order on the Sub- divisional Officer, Sadar:

S.D.O. Sadar This trouble arose last year and we had allowed the procession to pass under sufficient Police protection and an experienced Magistrate being kept in charge of the situation. Since most of the experienced Magistrates are out for emergency duties, the procession may be allowed to pass with adequate Police force behind and in the formed line under your direct supervision.

Sd. D. Swain 12.10.67 A.D.M.

8. The following day, October 13, 1967, the Sub-divisional Officer, Sadar, passed the following order:

13.10.67. Perused the order of the A.D.M. on the petition of the petitioner. Communicate the order to the O.I.C. Sadar P.S. The O.I.C. Salar P.S. should comply with the orders soon. A Magistrate to remain in charge if the Police would be deputed if required.

Sd. U.C. Padhi.

9. The petitioner applied for procession license on October 13, 1967. An English translation of the application is set oat below:

13.10.67 Sankarpur, Cuttack 3.

To The Officer in Charge, Sadar P.S. Sir, Beg to state that two Ganesh Madhas of our 1968 Cri.L.J. 96.

Sankarpur will start on procession at 7 p.m. on coming 18.10.67 and will proceed on the Mahtab Real through Chhatra Bazar till Dolmundai where the signboard of ‘Mahtab Road’ has been placed and return from that place and reach Cbbatra Bazar Bridge over Taldanda Canal at 12 p.m. for immersion.

So. request that necessary steps may be taken far granting permission for the aforesaid two Medhas to proceed on procession on the said route.

The following drummers bearers people will go in the procession:

4. People accompanying procession 30.

Yours faithfully, Sd/- Satyabadi Swain.

10. Thereafter on the same date (October 18, 1967) the Police reported to the District Magistrate through the Superintendent of Police, Cuttack, that orders be passed not to allow the Ganesh Medha to proceed upto the Dolmundi crossing and not to go beyond E3SO petrol pump as there was apprehension of serious breach of the peace resulting in rioting and bloodshed for reasons stated in the report of the Circle Inspector of Police. In the said report it was stated that as there was strong party faction and acute strained feeling between the villagers of Sankarpur and Hiripur and that several criminal cases against either party and counter-proceedings underSection 107, Criminal P.C. are pending against them, serious breach of the peace was apprehended this yeas (1967) at the time of taking out the prosecution, if license is granted allowing the procession to come upto Dolmundi crossing as applied for; that under these circumstances he refu3ed to grant the petitioner a license upto Dolmundi crossing and told that ha would grant a license only upto ESSO petrol pump and prepared the license accordingly; but the petitioner did not take the licence as yet, nor immersed the Ganesh Medha. The Superintendent of Police agreed with the circle Inspector and forwarded the same to the District Magistrate for issue of orders; and on the same day, the District Magistrate also approved of the same and directed the Sub-divisional Officer accordingly. In pursuance of the District Magistrate’s order, as aforesaid the procession license was granted under the provisions of Section 30 a ad 31 of the Police Act, 1861 read with Rule 23 of the Orissa Police Manual. Vol. I.

11. The relevant terms and conditions under which the procession license was granted to the petitioner Satyabadi Swain, so far as material, are these: