The Supreme Court on Monday took cognisance of the violence that erupted in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district on Sunday, reported The Hindu. The court said it will decide if the right to protest is an “absolute right”.
The court was hearing a petition filed by farmers’ body Kisan Mahapanchayat seeking permission to protest against the Centre’s contentious agriculture laws at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
Violence broke out in the district on Sunday during a farmers’ protest against the laws. Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in the district on Sunday. Farmer unions alleged that a car belonging to Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son ran over them.
In Monday’s hearing, a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar asked the farmers’ body what was it protesting against when the Supreme Court has already stayed the implementation of the three farm laws.
The court then said it will decide if farmers have a right to protest when the matter of the three contentious farm laws is sub-judice.
The laws, passed by the Centre in September 2020, sparked off protests by farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and have continued to rage ever since. In January, nearly two months into the farmer protests, the Supreme Court had suspended implementation of the farm laws.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the government, informed the court about the toll in the violence on Sunday.
To this, Justice Khanwilkar said: “When such events happen nobody takes responsibility. Damage to property and physical damage caused and no one takes responsibility.”
Both Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that no protest should be held since the matter of the farm laws was being heard by the court, reported Live Law. “Once the matter is before highest constitutional court, no one should be on roads,” said Mehta. “They must trust us.”
Corrections and clarifications: This article has been edited to say that eight people were killed during the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. An earlier version said that the toll was nine. The error is regretted.