A Supreme Court bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on 7th October,2020 termed the anti-CAA protests taking place in Shaheen Bagh, by blocking public pathways as unacceptable. While acknowledging the right to peaceful protest of citizens as enjoying constitutional sanctity, the Court mentioned that like any other fundamental right, this right is also not ‘absolute’ and is subjected reasonable restrictions in the interest of the public at large. Reading out the verdict, Justice Kaul mentioned that an indeterminate number of people cannot restrict public movement, thereby advancing inconvenience to the general public. The Court’s response comes in a petition filed by Advocate Amit Sahni, pleading a direction from the Court to shift the protesters to an alternative location, as the protests taking place in the area were impeding public movement in a vital location of the capital city.
While passing the judgement, the Court also described it as the public administrator’s duty to ensure that public places are not unjustifiably encroached. It called for concerted efforts from public authorities to ensure that public pathways are clear of obstructions and encroachments. The Court also went on to mention how the internet and social media can be ‘highly polarising’.
The protests against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act are led by a significant number of mothers, children, and senior citizens in and around Shaheen Bagh. Public officials removed the protesters on March 24 after the nation stepped into a complete lockdown in the wake of the pandemic.
Lakshmi Raj C