The Supreme Court on Friday rebuked farmers protesting against the three agricultural laws, saying they have “strangulated” Delhi, reported Live Law.
Farmers group Kisan Mahapanchayat had approached the court, seeking permission to hold a satyagrah or peaceful protest in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
“What is the point of doing satyagraha?” a bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar asked. “You have approached the court. Have trust in court. Once you have approached the court, what is the point of protest? Are you protesting against the judicial system? Have faith in the system.”
The court also criticised the farmers for holding their protest at Delhi’s border entry points that has led to blocking of the roads.
“You have strangulated the entire city, now you want to come inside the city,” the Supreme Court said. “The residents around, are they happy with the protest? This business should stop.”
The court said that citizens too have equal rights to move freely and without fear, reported PTI. It said that there has to be a balance between the rights of the citizens and those of the farmers.
The court also claimed that the protestors have been destroying property and “heckling security personnel”, Bar and Bench reported. “It was all over the media,” the court said.
To this, the Kisan Mahapanchayat’s counsel Ajay Choudhary said that the farmers were holding peaceful protests.
“What is this peaceful protest?” the court asked. “You block trains, you block highways and then you say your protest is peaceful and without causing any harm to the public.”
Choudhary told the judges that the Kisan Mahapanchayat was not part of the group of protestors who have blocked roads and highways.
He also said that it was the police and not the farmers who blocked the roads. The court asked the farmers’ body to file an affidavit stating the same.
The court will take up the matter for further hearing on October 4.
On Thursday too, the Supreme Court had raised objections to highways being blocked by the protesting farmers.
“Redressal can be through judicial forum agitation or parliamentary debates but how can highways be blocked and this cannot be a perpetual problem,” a bench led by Justice Sanjay Kaul had said.
The three contentious farm laws were passed by the government in 2020, which sparked off protests by thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that have continued to rage ever since.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-run Central government has claimed the new laws are aimed at making farming more profitable, but the farmers argue that they will bring about corporate dominance of the sector. The farmers also claim that once the prevailing authority of the state marketing boards – that provide a shield against exploitation – collapses, private entities will dictate the price of their produce.
In January, nearly two months into the farmer protests, the Supreme Court had suspended implementation of the farm laws.