The Delhi High Court on Thursday raised concern about the continuing protests outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence and said that allowing such an agitation in a residential area could set a wrong precedent, reported PTI. BJP leaders have been protesting outside Kejriwal’s residence since December 7, demanding funds for the municipal corporations.
During the hearing, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said the protest may be peaceful but then anyone would come and squat there like do in Ramlila Ground or Jantar Mantar, which are designated spots for holding an agitation.
“There is no problem if you come, protest and then go away,” he said. “But this is going on for 11 days continuously. Once you set a precedent, anyone will come and squat there,” the court said. “If this is permitted for all time to come, then you know what is the state of certain areas, like Ramlila ground and Jantar Mantar, where squatting and protests are permitted. We cannot have that kind of a situation in a residential colony.”
The court was hearing a plea by the Civil Lines Residents Association against the 11-day long protest outside Kejriwal’s residence on the grounds that it was blocking a road and causing inconvenience to residents. The association argued that protests have been allowed in a residential locality and roads have been barricaded, which violated the High Court’s 2017 order against demonstrations in housing areas.
Mayors of the BJP-led North, South and East municipal corporations have been protesting outside Kejriwal’s residence, asking for release of funds and clearance of alleged pending dues that were payable to the municipal corporations of Delhi. The protestors claimed that Delhi government owed them Rs 13,000 crore. The AAP, on the other hand, alleged that the funds had been misappropriated.
During Thursday’s hearing, the court observed that tents had been erected in the area, and there was speculation about the mayors running their offices from the protest site. The court asked the Delhi Police how the mayors can operate from there and the arrangements made for the protestors.
“Public functionaries deal with all kinds of people,” the court said. “Today it is one group of people who are protesting, the staff is protesting. Tomorrow it will be another group of people. Today the protest is peaceful. But once a precedent is set, tomorrow there will be another group of people protesting there and then you will come running.”
The High Court will take up the matter again on Friday after going through the police’s status report.
On December 13, the Aam Aadmi Party alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders vandalised Kejriwal’s home and broke CCTV cameras. The AAP had tweeted a video of a group of people, allegedly BJP workers, smashing the security cameras outside Kejriwal’s home. However, the BJP claimed that the AAP installed new cameras to keep an eye on the women councilors protesting outside Kejriwal’s house.