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Shaheen Bagh debate worsened into something else, says Supreme Court, defers hearing in road blockade case due to violence

The court also sharply criticised Delhi police for failing to contain the violence

A bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday called off the hearing on petitions seeking the removal of Road Blockade by people protesting at Shaheen bagh against the amended citizenship amendment act. Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph deferred the hearing after oral observations on the violence that has erupted in northeast Delhi over the last few days, holding that atmosphere aren’t conducive at present to proceed with this case.

The bench will again hear the petitions on March 23 after the Holi vacation.

Justice SK Kaul remarked, “Colours of Holi represent the difference in opinion which can co-exist. It is time for all parties and stakeholders to lower their temperatures.”

Referring to the violence that had erupted in east Delhi on Monday and turned violent rapidly, the judges observed “the debate (around the shaheen bagh blockade) has deteriorated into something else. And this is only an unfortunate example.”

“Let this fandom cool down. The timing is not conducive to hear this matter. It is for law enforcing administration to ensure environment is conducive,” the court said.

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The death toll due to violence in Delhi has reached 20 and over 250 people are injured.

The judges made it clear that they will limit the hearing to Shaheen Bagh blockade and will not extend to the violence in the East part of Delhi. However, the bench condemned the violence and termed it a “really unfortunate” incident.

The court also sharply criticised police for failing to contain the violence. “The problem is lack of professionalism of police. If this had been done before, this situation would not have risen,” Justice Joseph said. Police don’t have to wait for orders if someone makes inflammatory statements but act according to law, the court said.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta objected to this observation by the court, and stated that the police force should not be demoralized and pointed out that a DCP was nearly lynched. “I request your lordship not to get into all this”, Tushar Mehta said.

The Judges elaborated on what the bench felt was the problem with the response of police to the clashes on Sunday that escalated into a full-fledged communal riot. The judges even said that this is Delhi’s worst in three decades.

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