The supreme court today has pronounced its judgment on the rights of protestors against the CAA bill, a movement that shook the nation with thousands of protestors protesting across the country and shaheen bagh, being its epicenter.
A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul delivered the judgment on a petition filed by advocate Amit Sahni several months ago, for a direction to shift the anti-CAA protesters of Shaheen Bagh, mostly mothers and their children, to an alternative site as they were “blocking” public movement and causing traffic snarls in the area.
Protesters cannot occupy public places indefinitely, the Supreme Court said this morning in a hugely influential verdict on a batch of petitions against the anti-citizenship law protests at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that cleared the parliament last year. "Dissent and democracy go hand in hand," the top court observed, stressing that "protests like these are not acceptable".
"We have to make it clear that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely whether in Shaheen Bagh (in Delhi) or elsewhere. These sorts of protests (like Shaheen Bagh) are not acceptable and (the) authorities should act... they must keep such spaces free from obstruction," the top court said, adding the "administration cannot wait for orders from the court to clear" the protest sites.
"We have to balance the right to protest and blocking of roads. In a parliamentary democracy, protests can happen in parliament and on roads. But on roads, it has to be peaceful," the bench had said at the time.
The protestors had to back off from shaheen bagh on March 24 because of the pandemic that had hit India somedays back. The protesters had at the time written to Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde against their “forcible and vindictive removal” by the Delhi Police.
Meanwhile, the court has stressed the point that it respects and appreciates the right of peaceful protests and it won't be a problem if the protests are held in designated places.
"an indefinite period of protests in a common area (that) creates inconvenience for others", the court added.