Ramlila Maidan v. Home Secretary, Union of India, (2012) 5 SCC 1



In this landmark case, the fundamental right to peaceful assembly was granted under the constitution of India. The case begins with a violent protest which was meant to be peaceful gathering at Ramlila Maidan which is situated in Delhi. The court mentioned the significance of right to peaceful assembly and emphasized that it is the duty of the state to make possible such assemblies rather than stifle them. The importance for balance between public order and freedom of individual, cautioning against the lots of restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly. Adding to it, the court mentioned the importance of the duty of the state to safeguard the exercise of fundamental rights, including that proper facilities, needs and securities are necessary to be provided for well and peaceful protest. The ruling set a landmark for future cases involving the right to peaceful gathering, accentuate the role of judiciary in screening democratic utility and protecting rights of citizens to express disagreement peacefully.


Judgment cause titleProtection of Fundamental right to peaceful assembly.
Case numberCivil Appeal No. 7207 of 2012
Judgment dateMay 9, 2012
CourtSupreme Court of India
QuorumB.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar
AuthorSwatanter Kumar
Citation(2012) 5 SCC 1
Legal provisions InvolvedArticle 19(1)(b) Article 21


In the case ‘Ramlila Maidan v. Home Secretary, Union of India’ it is covered that the fundamental right to peaceful assembly/gathering under Article 19(1)(b) of the Indian constitution. The background of the judgment covers the case of a peaceful protest which was held at Ramlila Maidan located at Delhi, where followers of Baba Ramdev gathered at Ramlila Maidan to show their dissent against advocates for reforms and corruption.

During the whole scenario, Delhi Police tried to disperse the gathering by using force under the order given by Home secretary of Union of India, which resulted in a lot of chaos and violence. The petitioner Ramlila Maidan, approached for relief from the Supreme Court, arguing that the right to peaceful assembly was violated by the actions performed by the respected authorities.

The judgment investigates the importance of right to peaceful gathering in the Indian society. It also stated that there should be a balance between someone’s freedom and social order. The Supreme Court’s judgment in this case reaffirms the significance of this right and establishes guidelines for the state to make sure the protection and facilitation of the fundamental right and also maintaining pubic security at the same time.


On 27th February 2011, Baba Ramdev and his followers led a rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi against corruption, in which over 1 Lakh people participated after few months Baba Ramdev got permission to rent the Ramlila Maidan to organize a yoga training camp. Afterwards Baba Ramdev made Public his decision of protesting against corruption and got permission to show his dissent at Jantar Mantar with people not extending 200 in number on 4th June 2011. But on 4th instead of organizing yoga training camp, he staged the protest and its gathering in the Ramlila Maidan, in which over 50,000 people protested along with hunger strike. Seeing this, a team of police officials reached Baba Ramdev and told him that the permission he took for the camp will be withdrawn. After that Delhi police along with Central Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action force were sent to use force to end the protest and to arrest Baba Ramdev. To break the protest many weapons were used like tear gas, batons and water cannons to disperse the gathering. Almost all of the supporters of Baba Ramdev left the Ramlila Maidan. Baba Ramdev disappeared from the dais and was arrested by the police near Ranjit Singh Flyover.     


  1. Whether the imposition of section 144 of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 at the rally gave rise to violation of the right to free speech and expression, the right to assembly and right to life, as protected under the Articles 19 and 21.
  2. Whether there was contributory negligence on the part of Ramdev Baba’s Followers and trust.


  1. Organizers argued that they have the fundamental right to assemble peacefully and protest under the Article 19(1)(b).
  2. The protest was done against corruption and for the enactment of effective anti-corruption legislation, which would benefit the nation as a whole.
  3. The protest was not in favour of violence and did not resulted in any threat to security and public order.   


  1. The imposition of section 144 crpc was necessary to maintain safety of public.
  2. Stressed the need to prevent the inconvenience that might have caused to the residents because of the gathering.


Ratio Decidendi: The court highlights the importance of fundamental rights mentioned under the Indian constitution. While affirming the right to peaceful assembly, the court said that this right is not absolute and can be an important subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order and security. 

The court assessed the proportionality of restrictions which were imposed by the government under section 144 of crpc. Considering that there should be a balance between in protesting and maintaining public order and security.

Obiter Dicta: Proper balance between interests of individuals and interests of society should be maintained. Also, democratic values like right to dissent and peaceful protest should be given value and importance.


The court warned against the excessive force used by authorities in dispersing peaceful gathering and mentioned state’s responsibility to respect the dissent of citizens. This ruling case set a precedent involving right to peaceful gathering, establishing clear guidelines for the State.

Overall the judgment reflects the crucial and important role of judiciary in safeguarding the democratic values and ensuring the protection of fundamental rights of citizens. It serves as a reminder for the responsibility of the judiciary to serve as a watchdog against arbitrary exercise of power and to maintain the principles of justice, fairness, and constitutionalism.


  1. Important cases referred
    • Maneka Gandhi v. union of India (1978) 1 SCC 248
    • Himat Lal K. Shah v. Commissioner of police (1973) 1 SCC 227
    • People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. Union of India (2003) 4 SCC 399
    • Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar AIR 1962 SC 955
  2. Important statutes referred
    • The Constitution of India, 1947
    • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC)
    • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)
    • The Police Act, 1861

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