Democracy works on the expression of views. But there are lines and boundaries. Shaheenbagh protest and appointment of mediation team

A PIL in the SC urging for a direction to allow the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case the option of donating their organs after their likely execution

Brief facts:

The Supreme Court on 17th February decided to set up mediation team to talk with Shaheen Bagh protestors on the seeking clearance of road blockage because of sit- in protest of women started after 15th December, 2019 to express their contention on the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizen. The bench comprising Justice S.K Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph on 17th February asked Senior Advocate Sanjay Hedge and made it clear that Senior Advocate Senior Hedge to choose any two person in the team. Sanjay Hedge has proposed the name of Advocate Sadhna Ramachandran and former CIC Wajahat Habibullah, who has filed an intervening application to this petition, to talk with to Shaheen Bagh protestors and persuade them to move to an alternative site where no public place is blocked. The bench opined “People have a fundamental right to protest but the thing which is troubling us is blocking of public roads”.

Background of the case:

The petitions filed by Advocate Amit Sahni and Delhi BJP leader Nand Kishore Gargon the traffic disruption due to the protests. Sahni had earlier approached the Delhi High Court, seeking directions to the Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch. The HC had asked the police to look into the matter. The current petitioner is special leave petition which challenging order of Delhi High Court. The order simply directs the Delhi Police to “look into the grievances ventilated by the petitioner” while also keeping in mind “the larger public interest as well as the maintenance of law and order”[1].The situation in Shaheen Bagh is that protestor occupy only one side of 800 meter road, the other side is blocked, with an ambulance and school buses allowed to pass. It has been contended by Advocate Sahnithat  due to blockage of road between the Kalindi Kunj and Mathura Road region , which connects Delhi-Noida- Delhi (DND) flyover. This lead traffic being diverted to the Delhi- Noida- Delhi flyover, which sees lacs of commuters and need to be decongested[2].

On 10 February, the bench issued notice to centre and keep matter on 17th February after rejecting the argument of the petitioner for granting interim relief. The matter will be next considered on February 24.  The Supreme Court stressed on “balance” while expressing protest in the words “‘Protests genuine but see if it can be shifted elsewhere.’ The Supreme Court through Justice Kaul observed[3]

Democracy works on the 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 concern, where does it stop.”

However, on taking suo motto cognizance of the death of the infant recently in the protests at the Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Center and Delhi Government on the involvement of the children in the protests, on 10th February. The Bench took suo motto cognizance of death of 4 months old Mohammed Jahaan, who was accompanying his parents at the protest in Shaheen Bagh.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje