A review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the verdict which said that the protests can only be held at designated spots, saying that the order could be misused by the executive to crackdown on protests. This review petition was filed by the protesters who participated in the Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi.
The petition was filed by Kaniz Fatima and Delhi’s eleven other residents who took a part in the Shaheen Bagh. The review petition says that the Supreme Court’s judgment appeared to be giving way to an “unrestricted sanction to the police to take action by misusing these observations.”
The plea stated that the Supreme Court’s order given primacy to one aspect of public importance which is, regulation of protests to allow free movement of commuters. Whereas, rendering another aspect of public importance which is, the right to criticize the government policies by assembling peacefully.
It further added that,
“Such observations may prove to be a license in the hands of the police to commit atrocities on the legitimate voice of protest, especially the protesters coming from the vulnerable sections of social strata. Again this aspect is an error of law apparent”.
As per Economic Times, Advocate Kabir Dixit submitted on behalf of the petitioners that the principle of “balance different fundamental rights by completely segregating the right of protesters to abandoned places for protest would render the right to protest peacefully under article 19 meaningless.”
Advocate Kabir Dixit, while seeking a review of the verdict which was delivered by a bench of Justice SK Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose, and Justice Krishna Murari, said that,
“More so when majoritarian politics takes an oath to persecute marginalized minorities of the country’s large population.”
The petition says that the protests against the CAA bill were too important to be left at the mercy of elected representatives as the ruling that such protests are confined at designated spots upsets the very concept of protest and dissent. Petitioners also mentioned that by allowing administration and superior authority to remove any obstructions in public spaces, the verdict took away the constitutional guarantee for peaceful protests against the government policies and actions. The petition expresses the apprehensiveness of the judgment that it will allow the administration to never engage in dialogue with those protesting against government action or policy and instead provide them with the backing to take action, including the protesters.
The review petition to be heard by the same bench who delivered the original verdict. In its judgment of 7 October 2020, the Supreme Court said that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely. It further added, “We have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely. Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.”
The Supreme Court delivered the verdict even though when the site was vacated due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. But still, the apex Court continued to hear the matter to weigh in on the larger issue of balancing the right to protest with the right to free movement of people. On 24 March 2020, Delhi Police removed the structures at the site of the protest after 101 days of a sit-in protest.