The Supreme Court on Thursday gave farmers’ unions three weeks to respond to a petition seeking the removal of agricultural law protestors from Delhi’s borders, Bar and Bench reported.
Justice Sanjay Kaul said that the court was not against the farmers’ right to protest. “[But] roads cannot be blocked like this,” he said. “Ultimately some solution has to be found.”
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi’s border entry points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws passed last September. Farmers fear that the laws will bring about corporate dominance of the agricultural sector.
A woman named Monicca Agarwal filed a petition before the Supreme Court, saying that because of the farmers’ protest, it takes her much longer to commute from Noida to Delhi for work.
The petitioner argued that the Supreme Court has passed various directions to prevent road blockades but they have not been followed.
Meanwhile, advocate Dushyant Dave, representing farmers’ groups, said it was the police who had blocked the roads, Bar and Bench reported. “It suits them to allow a feeling that farmers are blocking the road,” he added. “Let us come to Ramlila Maidan [to protest].”
Dave asked for the matter to be transferred to another bench. “We will first decide the contours of the matter and take a call if it needs to be transferred to a larger bench,” the bench of Justices Sanjay Kaul and MM Sundresh said.
The Supreme Court will now hear the case on December 7.
At a hearing in September also, the Supreme Court had objected to highways in the Delhi-National Capital Region being blocked by 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 Kaul had said.
Barricades put up by Delhi Police: BKU
In response to the Supreme Court’s comment, the Bharatiya Kisan Union on Thursday said that barricades at the Ghazipur protest site have been put up the Delhi Police and not farmers, PTI reported.
“We also demand that the Delhi Police should remove them [barricades] now for public welfare,” Saurabh Upadhyay, a spokesperson of the farmers’ body, told the news agency.
The Ghazipur protest site is at the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border which the petitioner Monicca Agarwal needs to cross to commute to work.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union also denied media reports saying that protestors were vacating the Ghazipur site after the Supreme Court’s observation.