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The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Friday described as “highly unfortunate” the Supreme Court decision to uphold a ban on public meetings and rallies on roadsides in Kerala.

“It is highly unfortunate the Supreme Court had upheld the judgement of the Kerala High Court,” the CPI-M said in a statement here, a day after the Supreme Court ruling.

“It has been the common practice for political parties and other public organisations to hold meetings on the side of the road. Since Kerala is a continuous urban-rural stretch, holding of the road side meetings is the most convenient way to reach out to the people,” it said.

“This right of assembly is now being taken away by a judicial fiat based on a farfetched interpretation of the constitution that the right of movement is superior to the right of assembly.

“This may be extended to the whole country,” the statement said.

“This order comes in the wake of other restrictions imposed by the judiciary on holding of demonstrations, rallies and general strikes,” the CPI-M said.

“This does not augur well for a democracy. The state legislatures and parliament should adopt legislation protecting the right to assemble, to hold public meetings and demonstrations.”

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