DelhiThe Buzz

Shaheen Bagh Protests: SC reserves order on petitions seeking guidelines


Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21

Maintaining that people can’t claim an absolute right to protest, the Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on petitions seeking certain guidelines to strike a balance between the right to protest and right to free movement and mobility.

A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul–which was seized of PILs were filed by Amit Sahni, Shashank Deo Sushi and others against anti-CAA protesters blocking roads in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi–said it would pass an order on the larger issue even as the protesters were removed by the Police on March 24 in view of COVID-19 lockdown.

At the very outset, a Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the petitioners, “Are you withdrawing it?”

“No,” replied Sudhi.

Sahni said in future the protest shouldn’t continue.

“In the larger public interest, a decision may be taken,” Sahni said requesting the Bench to pass an elaborate order.

As advocate Mahmood Pracha contended that there was an absolute right to protest, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta objected to his submission, saying the right wasn’t absolute.

“Right to take out a procession is never take out for a absolute right… You cant simply go and stop a vehicular movement,” Mehta said.

Pracha said there has to be a universal policy in this regard.

“It’s difficult. There cannot be a universal policy because situations and facts are different every time. In a parliamentary democracy, there is always an avenue of debate. The only issue is how to balance it,” the Bench said.

“Let us have the benefit of the report filed by the interlocutors also,” it added.

Led mostly by women, the Shaheen Bagh protest is an ongoing 24/7 continuous sit-in (dharna) against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) passed by Parliament in December last year.

They were protesting the police action against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who allegedly indulged in violence during initial protests against the law.

The Protesters were also opposing National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) since 15 December 2019.

Notified on January 10, the CAA relaxes norms for grant of Indian citizenship by naturalization to Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and Jain and Parsi victims of religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before December 31, 2014.

The top court had on January 22 refused to stay the operation of the CAA and the National Population Register (NPR) and indicated that ultimately a five-judge Bench might have to decide these issues.


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