Thousands of protesters had blocked the Shaheen Bagh road connecting Delhi and Noida for more than three months to protest against the citizenship law. The protest ended due to COVID-19 pandemic fear in March.
The constitution bench had interpreted section 24 of the 'Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013' as there were two conflicting verdicts by different benches of the apex court on the issue.
The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking guidelines and directions on the right to protest in wake of the Shaheen Bagh protest against the CAA. Thousands of protesters had blocked the Shaheen Bagh road connecting Delhi and Noida for more than three months to protest against the citizenship law. The protest ended due to COVID-19 pandemic fear in March.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed that the right to protest, though legitimate, should be balanced with the right of the movement of the public.
The petition was filed by advocate Amit Sahni and others. Amit had said that protests like Shaheen Bagh must not take place in the future. He also highlighted that there was ‘chakka jam’ in Haryana on Sunday.
“This was allowed to have continued for more than 100 days and people faced difficulty. This kind of incident should not have happened. Yesterday in Haryana there was ‘Chakka Jam’ in Haryana. They have also called Bharat Bandh on September 24-25,” he said.
The bench also comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said that there cannot be a ‘universal policy’ on right to protest and possible curbs as also balancing it with acts like blocking of roads are needed because the situation may vary from case-to-case.
“There were some supervening circumstances which came into play and it was no one’s hand. God almighty itself intervened,” the bench said.
“We have to balance the right to protest and the blocking of roads. We have to deal with the issue. There cannot be universal policy as the situation may vary on case to case basis. In parliamentary democracy protest can happen in Parliament and on roads but on road it has to be peaceful,” it added.
The other petitioners in the case include former BJP MLA Nand Kishore Garg and Ashutosh Dubey. Amit Sahni had earlier moved the Delhi High Court seeking directions to Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch. The HC had asked the local authorities to deal with the situation. He then filed a SLP in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s order.