Police order does not bar entry to mall, says Karnataka HC

Claiming extreme urgency in the wake of an order issued by the Police Commissioner on Saturday to restrict public access to the mall located in Byatarayanapura,
Karnataka High Court (File Photo | EPS)
Karnataka High Court (File Photo | EPS)

BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court said the prohibitory order imposed by the Bengaluru City Police Commissioner “restricting public access” to Phoenix Mall of Asia should not be read as completely prohibiting or preventing the petitioner from using the mall for business purposes, and also not completely prohibiting the public from entering.

Claiming extreme urgency in the wake of an order issued by the Police Commissioner on Saturday to restrict public access to the mall located in Byatarayanapura, Sparkle One Mall Developers Ltd (petitioner), which is operating the mall, moved the High Court, which convened a special sitting on Sunday.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the order is unsustainable as it does not meet the requirement and parameters of Section 144 of the CrPC and it is ambiguous as it directs to “restrict public access” to the mall which would only lead to closing the mall from December 31 to January 15, 2024. He argued that the disruption caused by vehicles was not owing to any action taken by the petitioner, but because vehicle entry was blocked by the police which resulted in a jam outside the mall.

In response, Advocate General Shashikiran Shetty submitted that the order has not only been passed taking into consideration traffic congestion, pollution and other inconveniences caused to the public, but also in view of the law and order situation which might go out of hands. He also clarified that the order in no terms would indicate closing down the business in its entirety and it only directs the petitioner to “restrict public access”, which cannot be read under any circumstances to mean “prohibit”.

The counsel, representing the petitioner, submitted that to show deference to the reasons expressed by the respondent police, the petitioner would voluntarily close the mall for a day on December 31 (Sunday). Thereafter, and the mall should be permitted to stay open thereafter till a mutual resolution of the issue was arrived at between the petitioner and the respondents for the benefit of the public.

Noting that any order passed by the executive should be capable of its effective implementation in letter and spirit, Justice MGS Kamal said, “If it carries any ambiguity or is incapable of implementation, such order per se becomes unsustainable.” The court further clarified that no precipitative action should be taken by the police till the matter is resolved amicably, or till further orders. The HC also directed the petitioner and the police to explore the possibilities at the earliest and submit a report on Tuesday.

A meeting was also held between the police and the mall management. Police Commissioner B Dayananda told TNIE that senior police officials would visit the mall to address the issues. “Following an assessment, documents outlining proposed actions will be presented before the court,” he said.

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