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Public places can’t be blocked indefinity for protests, govt must remove them without waiting for court order: Supreme Court on Shaheen Bagh protests

A Supreme Court bench of Justices S K Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari delivered this verdict while delivering a judgement on the scope of the right to protest and whether or not there can be any limitations on such a right

In a huge setback for the anti-CAA protestors and Islamic mobs of Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in a scathing remark said that the public places like Shaheen Bagh cannot be blocked or occupied indefinitely for protests. A Supreme Court bench of Justices S K Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari delivered this verdict while delivering a judgement on the scope of the right to protest and whether or not there can be any limitations on such a right.

The Supreme Court bench on Wednesday said that no person or group of persons can block public places or carriageways to demonstrate or express dissent. Such kind of occupation of public place for protests is not acceptable and protests must be held at designated places, ruled the Supreme Court.

Hearing a batch of petitions seeking guidelines on the right to protest, the Supreme Court observed, “Public spaces and places can’t be occupied indefinitely whether in Shaheen Bagh or elsewhere. The administration must keep such spaces free from obstructions. Not wait to fire from court’s shoulder”. “Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated area”, said the bench comprising Justices S K Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari.

On September 21, the top court had reserved its order on the aspect of “the need to balance the right to protest with the right of mobility by other people”. The petition was filed by Advocate Amit Sahni in January seeking removal of the protests against CAA-NRC at Shaheen Bagh. The petitioner had complained that protests were blocking the roads, affecting the right of free movement of the public.

Authorities should have acted to clear the Shaheen Bagh area: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court also slammed the government for not clearing the blocked road and waiting for court’s order instead. The court said that authorities have to act on their own and cannot hide behind courts.

“The Delhi Police ought to have taken action to clear Shaheen Bagh area,” the Supreme Court said on the so-called anti-CAA ‘protests’ at Shaheen Bagh.

The apex court also said right to peaceful protest is a constitutional right and it has to be respected. However, the right does not mean agitating people should adopt means and modes of protest that was used against colonial rulers during struggle for independence.

Demonstrations which cause inconvenience to a large number of people and violate their rights is not permissible under the law, the court further added. The court said that the right to protest has to be balanced with the right of the people to use a public road. Noting that a pubic road was blocked for a long period of time, the bench asked, “what about this right to use the road?”

As Shaheen Bagh protests were already called off in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the issue of road blockade had become infructuous. But the apex court had said that it will deliver a verdict on the issue of Right to Protest Vs. The Right to Mobility. Today’s order gives the governments legal sanction to remove protests blocking public places without the need to waiting for a court order, therefore it will have a far-reaching impact.

Shaheen Bagh Anti-CAA protests

The anti-CAA protests, especially at Shaheen Bagh, which began as a peaceful protest crossed all the boundaries as it turned out to be another typical left-wing managed anti-India event. Eventually, the Shaheen Bagh protest site had provided fodder and a shield for violent rioters who had, in February, targeted Hindus and gone on a rampage burning the capital, timing the bloodbath with US President Trump’s visit to Delhi.

Following the failure of violent protests perpetrated by the Muslim mobs on the streets of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia University, few women belonging to Muslim community sat on a protest at Shaheen Bagh, blocked a bus stop and a highway causing severe problems to the public of Delhi.

Shaheen Bagh protests, which were initially passed off as an organic protest in a bid to ‘save the constitution’ began to turn into a blatantly communal event. It was earlier reported that the Muslim mobs had shouted pro-Pakistan and Hinduphobic slogans like “Jinnah Wali Azadi”, demanding another partition of the country.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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