Freedom of assembly is not an absolute right, the High Court ruled as it quashed a judicial review challenging a police ban of rallies.
This came after "King of Judicial Review" Kwok Cheuk-kin and retiree Cheung Tak-wing filed a writ to the High Court against police and the Appeal Board of Public Meetings and Processions, arguing that requiring the organizer of a rally or assembly to apply for approval from the two authorities was unconstitutional.
They said such an arrangement goes against Articles 27 and 29 of the Basic Law, which lays out rights of assembly and demonstration and civil and political rights Hong Kong citizens enjoy.
In a written judgment yesterday, High Court justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming rejected their judicial review application, saying that such freedoms and rights may be subject to restrictions that are "prescribed by or imposed in conformity with the law and necessary for reasons of national security, public safety and public order".
Chow cited a case between former lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and the SAR government at the Court of Final Appeal, which found that the notification requirement for a public procession was constitutional.
"The Police Commissioner's discretion to restrict a public procession from taking place based on public order grounds - in the law and order sense, the maintenance of public order and prevention of public disorder - satisfied the prescribed by law requirement," the judge wrote.
The police have banned various rallies recently citing public safety concerns, including one planned by Civil Human Rights Front against the anti mask law last Sunday, and an October 1 rally marking a "National Day of Mourning."