The Supreme Court on Monday observed that the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens has been going on for a long time, and wondered how the demonstrators could block a public road, ANI reported.
“The protest has been going on for a long time, how can you block a public road?” Justice Sanjay Kaul observed. The court added that people were entitled to protest but said they had to do so in designated areas, according to PTI.
The top court also said that despite a pending plea in court, people were protesting, adding that they were “entitled to protest”. However, it said the protests in the locality cannot inconvenience others.
Refusing to pass any orders without hearing all sides, the court issued a notice to the Delhi government and the Delhi Police and posted the matter for hearing next on February 17.
Lawyer Amit Sahni, one of the petitioners in the case, said the question was about the extent of protests.
On February 7, the Supreme Court had deferred the hearings on the pleas against the protests at Shaheen Bagh till Monday, in view of the Delhi Assembly elections, held on February 8. “We understand there is some difficulty, but we will be in a better position to take it up on Monday [February 10],” the court said.
Shaheen Bagh has become the epicentre of protests against the amended citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens. Hundreds of women have been protesting there since December 15. The Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch in the Capital has been closed since December 15 after protestors began the sit-in.
The bench, also comprising Justice KM Joseph, was hearing pleas by lawyer Sahni and Nand Kishore Garg. Sahni’s petition asked for directions for the removal of the barricades on the Shaheen Bagh stretch, while Garg sought the top court’s order to remove the protestors from Kalindi Kunj road.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had attempted to portray the Delhi elections as a referendum on the ongoing protests, particularly at Shaheen Bagh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, too, had hit out at the Shaheen Bagh protests. Modi had called the protests a “conspiracy”, where the real agenda is being obscured by using the tricolour and the Constitution as symbols. Union minister Anurag Thakur said on February 4 that the locality will be cleared if the saffron party was voted to power.
The results of the Delhi Assembly elections will be declared on Tuesday. Despite the BJP’s belligerent rhetoric, all exit polls have showed the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party winning a comfortable majority.