New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday disapproved of occupying public places like Shaheen Bagh for protest 'indefinitely'.
The apex court's verdict came on a plea against the anti-CAA protests which had resulted in blocking of a road in Shaheen Bagh in the national capital from last December until 24 March.The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice S K Kaul held that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely as seen during the Shaheen Bagh protests. The bench also said that Delhi Police should have taken action to clear Shaheen Bagh area from the protesters.
In a case in which the court has had to strike a balance between the right to protest and the right to public movement, it said, "Democracy and dissent go hand in hand," ,adding that the authorities have to act on their own and cannot hide behind courts in dealing with such a situation.
The verdict came on a plea of lawyer Amit Sahni against the blockade of a road in Shaheen Bagh area by those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and had sought the court's intervention to shift the venue of the strike to a different location.
Although the Shaheen Bagh sit-in strike against the CAA was dispersed by police on 24 March in view of the lockdown declaration for Covid-19 prevention, and the plea had thus become infructuous, the petitioner pressed the case to get a ruling as a matter of principle to prevent future protests hindering public movement.
The protesters had at the time of eviction written to the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde complaining about their forcible and vindictive removal by the Delhi police.
During the protests, in response to pleas to disperse the gathering, the Supreme Court had appointed two mediators, Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde and Sadhna Ramchandran, to talk to the protesters as a way of persuading them to clear the path, but the protesters, mostly women including many elderly, declined to give up the strike.