Public places, roads can’t be occupied indefinitely: SC on Shaheen Bagh protest

The Supreme Court on Wednesday (October 7) said that public places and roads cannot be occupied indefinitely and agitations should be permitted in designated areas only. The SC made the observation while hearing petitions on road blockade during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh.

“There cannot be ban on public meetings but they have to be in designated areas. Right to commute should not be indefinitely curtailed,” a three-judge bench headed by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed, adding that right to protest has to be balanced with right to commute.

“Social media channels often fraught with danger lead to highly polarising environment and this is what was witnessed in shaheen bagh. Started out as a protest and caused inconvenience to commuters,” said Justice Kaul.

“In what manner the administration should act is their responsibility and should not hide behind court orders to carry out administrative functions. Administration ought to take action to keep area clear of encroachments and obstructions.,” added Justice Kaul.

Shaheen Bagh grabbed headlines after it emerged as a protest venue for people opposed to the CAA and the National Register of Citizens since December 15 last year.

The CAA amended Section 2 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, making  any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan eligible to apply for Indian citizenship by naturalisation. The amendment, however, excluded Muslim illegal migrants from availing the opportunity to apply for Indian citizenship, which sparked massive protests across the country.

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