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Farmers Protests can Continue Without Impediment And Breach Of Peace By Protestors And Police:Supreme Court-Read Order

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
17 Dec 2020 10:58 AM GMT
Farmers Protests can Continue Without Impediment And Breach Of Peace By Protestors And Police:Supreme Court-Read Order
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"We are of the view at this stage that the farmers' protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police".

The Supreme Court on Thursday refrained from passing any substantive directions in the PILs seeking removal of farmers protests as there was no appearance for the farmers unions who were added as respondents in the case.The bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde reiterated its suggestion to constitute a committee to facilitate talks between the protesting farmers and the...

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The Supreme Court on Thursday refrained from passing any substantive directions in the PILs seeking removal of farmers protests as there was no appearance for the farmers unions who were added as respondents in the case.

The bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde reiterated its suggestion to constitute a committee to facilitate talks between the protesting farmers and the Central Government to resolve the disputes over the recently passed farm laws.

"We clarify that this Court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order. There can certainly be no impediment in the exercise of such rights as long as it is non-violent and does not result in damage to the life and properties of other citizens and is in accordance with law.

We are of the view at this stage that the farmers' protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police".

The CJI also suggested the Central Governemnt to put on hold the implementation of the farm laws to facilitate discussions. The Attorney General for India, K K Venugoal, said that he will get back after taking instructions from the Central Government.

Here are some of the key observations made by the CJI during the hearing.

Question of validity of laws can wait

"We will not decide the validity of the laws today. The first and the only thing we will decide today is regarding the farmers protest and the fundamental right of citizens to move. The question of validity of laws can wait", the CJI remarked referring to the petitions challenging the farm laws which were also listed before the bench today.

Fundamental right to protest recognized; but it cannot affect others' rights

"One thing we will make it clear. We recognize the fundamental right to protest against a law. But that cannot affect other fundamental rights and right to life of others".

"We recognize that the farmers have a right to protest. But we are on the mode of protesting. We will ask the Union what can be done to alter the nature of protesting which will ensure that rights of others are not affected".

Police cannot use violent means against protesters

"The police can also not use violent means".

"Protests can continue in a non-violent violent maner. You(pointing to Attorney General) cannot instigate violence too".

Protests cannot be just for the sake of protests

"Purpose of protest can be achieved only if people talk to each other. If the protest has a purpose other than the protest, we wish to facilitate that. For that, we are proposing an independent impartial committee before whom both the parties can state their case while the protest goes on and the committee will give its opinion, which we expect the parties to follow".

"In protests, the aggrieved party must be able to articulate their view and the party who is said to have caused the grievance must have an option to answer. We think this can be done before an independent committe with independent members with knowledge of agriculture. We will propose names like P Sainath"

"You have a right to protest which we are not going to interfere with. You carry on the protest. The purpose of protest must be served to talking to someone. You cannot sit in protest for years".

Sympathetic to farmers

"We are familiar with the plight of the farmers. We are Indians. We are sympathetic to the farmers. But we are on the manner of protests"

Other key exchanges

Senior Adovcate Harish Salve, appearing for a petitioner seeking removal of farmers protests, advanced an argument that the protests have put the city of Delhi under a blockade, denying its inhabitants righ to access essential commodities.

In this context, the CJI asked if all border roads to Delhi have been blocked.

The Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, clarified that only the border roads at Tikri and Singhu have been blocked and that the farmers are threatening to block the Noida gateway too.

We are not on the extent of blocking. It is not as if Delhi is choked. I think Salve has pitched it highly", CJI commented.

Salve replied that main arterial roads have been blocked.

Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi Government, disputed the submission.

"There are more than hundreds of arterial roads. I do not know where these figures are coming. Court should not accept these oral submissions if they are not on affidavit", Mehra submitted.

Mehra also submitted that the petition was "mischeivous" as Delhi Government has not been made a party.

The Solicitor General retorted by saying that it was not a platform for playing politics.

People organizing protests must identify themselves before the government

Salve advanced a suggestion that the government must have a protocol that a person calling for the protests will identify himself si that he can be held accountable for damages "so that an amorphous group of people will not disappear".

"The cause of the protest cannot be protest. The cause of protest is to articulate a view. Protests for the sake of protests are a public nuisance", Salve submitted.

When massive number of people think that a law is unjust, there will be massive protests - Chidambaram

P Chidambaram, who appeared for the State of Punjab, while welcoming the suggestion of the bench to form a committee to mediate, urged the court not to get into the issues relating to legality of protests.

"When massive number of people think that a law is unjust, there will be massive protests", Chidambaram said referring to instances in US against Vietnam War, protests in Paris, Vienna etc.

"Farmers have not blocked the roads. Farmers wanted to march to Delhi. Who has stopped them and blocked them? The police has blocked them. We see photos of barricades, containers, barbed wires etc.

It is the police who blocked the roads. Police cannot block the roads and blame farmers.

We want the Parliament to convene and the Parliamentarians to discuss".

When the CJI used the word "mob" in reference to the protesters, Chidambaram replied that that they are not a "mob" but a "group of farmers".

The CJI clarified that the word was not used in a pejorative sense.

The bench, also comprising Justices V Ramasubramanian and AS Bopanna, wound up today's proceedings by directing service of notice on the farmers unions(which have been imlpeaded in the case) by tomorrow. The bench indicated that the matter could be considered by another bench during Christmas vacation.

Click here to Read the Supreme Court Order on Farmers Protest 

 

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