Supreme Court on Monday reserved judgement in Shaheen Bagh protest case.
While reserving the judgement, bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul made an observation stating, “we will pen a short order balancing the right to protest and right to free movement of general public."
The petitions were filed by SC lawyer Amit Sahni and social activist Nand Kishore Garg represented by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi in February, seeking removal of protestors from Shaheen Bagh.
Advocate Amit Sahni, one of the petitioners, stated that such kind of protests must not take place in the future. He submitted that the protest started on December 14th, 2019 and he approached the High Court of Delhi, which directed the respondents Delhi Police, Govt. of Delhi and Union of India to take action considering the larger public interest and law and order situation. He said he was constrained to approach Supreme Court since no action was taken by the aforesaid respondents and despite categorical observations of SC that none can block the public road.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha appearing for the protestors, said the right to protest peacefully is an absolute right and made a submission that a universal standard and policy needs to be applied in order to create a balance between right to protest and free usage of public roads.
To this, Justice Kaul remarked,
"There cannot be a universal policy. In a parliamentary democracy, there is an avenue of debate. The only issue is in what manner and where.. and for how long and how to balance it."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the Right to Protest was a fundamental right, albeit with reasonable restrictions. He stated that people have right to hold peaceful protest but it should not cause inconvenience to the general public by blocking roads.
The bench agreed with the contention of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that people cannot claim absolute right to hold protest, people have right to hold peaceful protest but it should not cause inconvenience to the general public by blocking roads.
In January, a bench of Justices SK Kaul & KM Joseph had issued notice on petitions seeking the clearance of the ongoing protests against CAA-NRC at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.
The bench observed,
"There cannot be indefinite protests in a common area. If everybody starts protesting everywhere, what will happen?"