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[Shaheen Bagh] : SC Sets Up Mediation Team To Talk To Protesters On Clearing Road Blockade [Read Order]

Nilashish Chaudhary
17 Feb 2020 9:24 AM GMT
[Shaheen Bagh] : SC Sets Up Mediation Team To Talk To Protesters On Clearing Road Blockade [Read Order]
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The Supreme Court on Monday set up a mediation team headed by Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde to hold talks with the Shaheen Bagh protesters on a plea seeking clerance of road blockade due to the sit-in protests.

The bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph made it clear that Hegde may choose Advocate Sadhana Ramachandran or any other person of his choice to "make the persons at site see reason".

The Court observed that the mere fact that the Supreme Court was considering the constitutional challenge against CAA will not take away the right to protest of the persons who feel aggrieved by the legislation.

"However, the question is where and how protest can carry on without public ways being blocked. Our concern is more than this matter alne, as there may be persons of different points of view who may tomorrow seek to emulate this protest, such scenario only leads to chaotic situation. This must cease on public ways everywhere", the bench said in the order.

The Court was hearing the petitions filed by lawyer Amit Sahni and Nand Kishore Garg seeking clearance of Shaheen Bagh protests, which had been going on for over sixty days against Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.

The matter will be next considered on February 24.

During the hearing, Justice Kaul repeatedly stressed on the need to have a "balance" in exercising right to protest.

"Democracy works on expression of views. But there are lines and boundaries. If you wish to protest, while the matter is being heard here, that's also ok. But our concern is limited. Today there could be one legislation. Tomorrow another section of society could have a problem with something else.

Blocking traffic and causing inconvenience is our concern. My concern is if everybody starts blocking roads, maybe due to genuine concerns, where does it stop", Justice Kaul observed.

When a lawyer for an intervenor submitted that essential services like school buses, ambulances etc., are given passage, the Solicitor General opposed by saying "there was complete blockade".

Saying that the protests were keeping "women and children in front", the SG said : "We have tried to hold several meetings. You cannot hold an entire city hostage under the garb of protests.

At this juncture, Justice Kaul asked Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, who was sitting in the court room observing the proceedings, if he could talk to the protesters. 

The Court asked the Centre to suggest alternative locations where protests could be held without blocking roads.

"What we want you to look into are alternatives for where they can go instead of blocking roads to protest", Justice Kaul told the Solicitor General.

While agreeing, the Solicitor General submitted that an impression should not be given that the institution was bending before the protesters.

"I don't want the message to be that we've been brought to our knees", the SG said.

"It is upon them to discuss and then inform. We will give suggestions, but this cannot be their contention that since we have not been able to find alternatives, they will continue there", the SG added.



On February 10, a SC bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph had issued notices on the petitions filed by 

The bench had orally remarked that indefinite protests blocking a road cannot go on, and that they should taken place only in areas designated for protests.

The Court however declined to pass interim directions, and posted the matter on February 17.

Amit Sahni had earlier taken his grievance to the Delhi High Court . But the HC did not pass any positive direction and disposed of the petition directing the police to "consider" the petitioner's grievances

The petitioners alleged that the protests have led to an "alarming situation" due to "blockade" of the road between the Kalindi Kunj and Mathura Road region, which connects Delhi-Noida-Faridabad. This has led to traffic being diverted to the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) flyway, which sees lacs of commuters, and needs to be decongested.

The Shaheen Bagh protests, without any visible leader, are held by mostly women, who have been doing a round the clock sit-in against the CAA-NRC for over fifty days.

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