October 28, 2021

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Can’t be in court & also go on blocking roads: SC to farmers

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Can’t be in court & also go on blocking roads: SC to farmers
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Can’t be in court & also go on blocking roads: SC to farmers
Can’t be in court & also go on blocking roads: SC to farmers

NEW DELHI: A farmer group’s plea for permission to hold protest against the three new agricultural laws at Jantar Mantar near Parliament triggered a volley of questions Friday from the Supreme Court. It asked the petitioner about the justification of continuing protests by blocking highways that have strangulated the capital city when the oufit had already challenged the laws in the court.
Jaipur-based Kisan Mahapanchayat, through advocate Ajay Choudhary, told a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar that the organisation was one of the petitioners who have challenged the validity of the laws, implementation of which was stayed for a year and half by the apex court in January to bring the farmers to the negotiating table. Chaudhary said the Delhi Police repeatedly rejected permission to the Mahapanchayat to hold protests with 200 members/protesters at Jantar Mantar despite easing of Covid norms.
“You have strangulated the entire city by blocking the highways at crucial entry points from various states. Now you want to come inside the city to protest,” the justices said. “The issue is already challenged before the Supreme Court. Once you have made up your mind to come to the court, you cannot go on protesting on the streets. Are you protesting against the judicial system?”
Citizens have a right to move freely. Have you thought about their rights getting violated because of road blockade? Are the residents around the protest points happy with the farmers blocking the highways? Their business has stopped. You (farmers) even obstructed movement of vehicles carrying defence personnel and heckled them as per newspaper reports. You block train movement. You block highways and then come and say the protests are peaceful,” the bench said.
When Chaudhary said the highways are blocked by police and not farmers, the bench asked Kisan Mahapanchayat, which moved the court through its president Ram Pal Jat, to file an affidavit declaring that the petitioner is not part of the road blockade protests being organised by various farmer organisations at three border points on highways linking Delhi with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Justices Khanwilkar and Ravikumar said, “You (Kisan Mahapanchayat) cannot isolate yourself from the ongoing protests. You cannot protest when you have already moved the Supreme Court. If you want to continue with your protests, don’t come to court.”
While posting the petition for hearing on October 8, the bench asked the organisation to file an affidavit clarifying whether it is participating in the ongoing protests by farmers. It also asked Chaudhary to serve the petition on Attorney General K K Venugopal.
On Thursday, another bench headed by Justice Sanjay K Kaul had told the government that the law on the issue (protesters blocking public roads) has been settled in the Shaheen Bagh case and that it was for the Executive to implement it. In the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protest case, the SC had said that no protester can be permitted to block public pathways or highways indefinitely in violation of the right of citizens to move freely.
The SC had on October 7, 2020 ruled that “we have no hesitation in concluding that such kind of occupation of public ways, whether at the site in question or anywhere else for protests is not acceptable and the administration ought to take action to keep the areas clear of encroachments or obstructions”.
“While appreciating the existence of the right to peaceful protest against a legislation, 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 present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was blockade of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. We cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest,” it had said.

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