A review petition has been filed by 12 activists before the Supreme Court against its verdict in the case relating to the Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi.
On October 7, a three judge Bench led by Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said the protest, considered an iconic dissent mounted by the mothers, children and senior citizens of Shaheen Bagh against the controversial citizenship law, was inconvenient for commuters. The Bench held that the right to peaceful protest against a legislation exists, but the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.
The 13 page judgement stated that the protesters should express their dissent only in designated areas chosen by the administration. Right to dissent should not hamper the right of movement of the public and protests should not become a nuisance.
The verdict made it clear that public ways and public spaces can not be occupied indefinitely and observed that fundamental rights do not live in isolation. “The right of the protester has to be balanced with the right of the commuter. They have to co-exist in mutual respect”, the bench stated.
The Court reprimanded the proper authorities for not taking necessary steps and hiding behind court orders and stated,
"In what manner the administration should act is their responsibility and they should not hide behind the court orders or seek support therefrom for carrying out their administrative functions. The courts adjudicate the legality of the actions and are not meant to give shoulder to the administration to fire their guns from."
In the present petition it has been contended that this finding is prima facie erroneous inasmuch as it gives an unrestricted sanction to the police to take action by misusing these observations.
The petitioners asked how the Court can restrict the expressions of dissent to certain designated areas only. The petition stated,
“Restricting protests to designated areas upsets the very concept of dissent and protests... Protests are the only way for citizens in a democracy to show their dissent. Curb on this freedom leaves citizens with no resort to voice their concerns”.