The Supreme Court has begun hearing the petitions seeking clearance of the Kalindi Kunj road today (February 17, 2020) which has remained blocked for over 60 days on account of the anti-CAA protests at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh.
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul says Democracy works on expression of views. But there are lines and boundaries. They can protest and need not wait for SC Judgment. But issue is "whether public road is the appropriate place to hold protests?" Lawyer for intervenor Chandra Shekhar Azad says Alternate roads have been blocked leading to traffic. SC asks Chandra Shekhar Aazad, "Our concern is whether it should be on a public road. Are you as intervenor in a position to go to them and persuade them that to see if protests can be held without blocking the roads".
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul says"We are not worried about protests as long as they are not blocking the roads."
Justice KM Joseph says "They have a fundamental right to protest."
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul says “In the age of Twitter and social media, there’s a tendency for everyone to go overboard”.
SC says “Today it’s one road due to one legislation.Tomorrow it will be another road for another legislation. Can this be allowed to continue?”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta saysthat protestors are keeping women and children at the front as a shield.
SC while dictating ordersays the concern is not in this case alone. Anybody can resort to protests on public roads.
SC asks Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde to talk to protestors to persuade them against blocking roads, adding that Hegde can take assistance from any other person.
SG Mehta says a message should not go that we have been brought down to our knees.
SC asks whether Advocate Sadhna Ramakrishnan could be of help in assisting Hegde in this task.
SC posts the Shaheen Bagh protest hearing for next Monday, February 24, 2020.
From the last 60 plus days Shaheen bagh has been the centre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). The protest is led by muslim women who have been sitting in Shaheen Bagh since the passage of the act. The main goal of this protest is to pressurize the government to roll back CAA and not to apply NRC (National Register of Citizens) in India. There have been no reports of deaths or any kind of mishaps in this protest. The mastermind behind this protest is PFI (Popular Front Of India) allegedly. This organization stands for safeguarding muslim interests in India and has its headquarter in Shaheen Bagh itself.
A petition against this protest was filed in the Supreme Court. In the previous hearing the Supreme Court denied pronouncing any verdict without hearing the plea of the protestor’s. The Supreme Court directed the Central government and the Delhi government who have been asking that how can anyone block a public road? The protest has been going on for quite some time now. It should have been restricted to a specific area and no public places or roads should have been affected by this protest. If people start protesting like this all over the country by blocking means of public traffic and roads how will the country function.
The petition stated that because of this protest the road linking Delhi with Noida has been affected largely. It has been closed for a long timpe due to this ongoing protest. This has affected the people who travel from Delhi to Noida or vice versa on a daily basis. The petitions asks to lay some stern guidelines for the protest and to open the blocked roads. The petition filed by lawyer Shashank Dev Sudhi on the directions of Delhi’s former MLA states that because of the protestor’s stubborn nature the administrative machinery has been taken hostage and they are not able to perform their duties. The petition also states that it is very shameful that the government is surrendering to the protestor’s hooliganism and atrocity. These acts put in danger, the existence of law and order and protection of the Indian Constitution.
The protest is peaceful and non- violent and within the boundaries of constitution. But this protest lost its validity at the time when its indirect motive became the paid protection of the constitution. The leaderless protest is the longest running protest in the country against CAA and NRC. And was the talking point in the Delhi elections.
Author: Aishwarya Bajpai