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‘Balance Right to Protest with Movement’: SC on Anti-CAA Protests

The top court also said that there cannot be a “universal policy” regarding protests.

Published
India
2 min read
The main protest area of Shaheen Bagh protests, as on 15 January 2020.
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The Supreme Court on Monday, 21 September, reserved the verdict on pleas against anti-CAA protests leading to a road being blocked in Shaheen Bagh, and said that a balance between right to protest and blocking of roads was required, according to media reports.

The top court also said, according to NDTV, that there cannot be a “universal policy” regarding the same as the situation may vary from case to case.

Shaheen Bagh protests were famous for being helmed and enthusiastically participated in by women.

The petition, addressed by the SC on Monday, was filed by Advocate Amit Sahni seven months ago, reported The Hindu. However, Sahni reportedly said that the court should specifically order that in future, protests do not hinder public movement.

The Shaheen Bagh area was cleared out amid the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

According to NDTV, a top court bench comprising of Justices SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said:

“There were some supervening circumstances which came into play. God almighty had intervened.”

What Did the Court Say?

According to NDTV, the court stressed on a need to “balance the right to protests and blocking of roads.”

It further said: “We have to deal with the issue. There cannot be a universal policy as the situation may vary on case to case basis.”

“In a parliamentary democracy, protests can happen in parliament and on roads. But on roads, it has to be peaceful”.
SC on Shaheen Bagh protests
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What Did the Petitioner Say?

Amit Sahni, the petitioner, argued:

“This was allowed to continue for more than 100 days and people faced difficulties. This kind of incident should not have happened. Yesterday, in Haryana, a “chakka jam” was organised. They have also called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on 24-25 September.”

Sahni had, previously, approached the high court seeking directions to Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, amid the anti-CAA protests.

The high court, on its part, had asked local authorities to deal with the situation keeping in mind the law and order situation. Sahni had then filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court.

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What Did the Intervenor Say?

Advocate Mehmood Pracha, appearing for an intervenor, said that there was a right to peaceful protest. According to NDTV, Pracha also stated that members of a political party went to the spot and "created" the riots.

He further pointed out that State machinery ‘is not sacrosanct.’

“We have the right to protest. State machinery is not sacrosanct. Members of a political party went there with the police and created the situation.”
Mehmood Pracha

What Did the Centre Say?

According to The Hindu, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, stated that right to protest, like every other right, was not absolute.

(With inputs from NDTV and The Hindu.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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