A public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday seeking that the protesting farmers be removed immediately from the border areas of the Delhi-National Capital Region, reported Bar and Bench. The farmers have been agitating against three newly-passed farm laws for the last nine days.

The petitioner’s plea is based on two points – hardship faced by the commuters and the threat of spread of coronavirus infection. The petition stated that it was “necessary to remove the gathering” as the protest was causing hurdles while accessing emergency medical services. It also added that lives of lakhs of people protesting at the borders was at risk “since the virus is very contagious and if by chance this coronavirus disease takes the shape of community spread, it will cause a havoc in the country”.

Petitioner Om Prakash Parihar demanded that the protestors be shifted to some other place and the Delhi borders be reopened. “Because of the ongoing protest at the Delhi borders, the roads have been blocked by the protesters and closed border points, which have affected vehicular traffic and people who are travelling to and from Delhi to get medical treatment in reputed government/private hospitals situated in Delhi are also affected,” the plea read.

Last week, the Delhi Police had allotted the farmers a designated protest site in Burari area. However, the farmers refused to shift to the ground, calling it an “open jail”. Key border crossings around the Capital, like the Singhu near Delhi and Haryana, Tikri and Ghazipur remained closed for movement of traffic due to the agitation.

“Though the police has allotted a dedicated place for the protestors to protest peacefully, but the protestors are not shifting/moving to the allotted place and in order to create trouble for the commuters they have blocked the borders. Furthermore, owing to their large number of protestors, the police is not able to control such a large gathering.”

— Petitioner Om Prakash Parihar

The petitioner also referred to the Supreme Court’s October 7 verdict on a petition against the blockade of a road in Shaheen Bagh area in Delhi by those protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act, reported PTI. In its judgement, the top court had said that public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely and demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.

Talks between farmers and the Centre have so far failed to break the impasse. Another round of talks is scheduled to take place on December 5. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has assured the farmers that the Minimum Support Price regime will not be done away with under the new laws. Meanwhile, representatives of the farmers remained adamant on their demand of repealing the three laws.

Follow the live updates on the farm law protests here