The Supreme Court denied the appeal petition lodged by 12 activists against the ruling of the apex court on the freedom to protest, where the court ruled that demonstrators should not permanently block public places and highways.
In response to a batch of petitions filed last year in the Shaheen Bagh by the protesters, arguing against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the judgment was issued.
“While dismissing the review petition, the three-judge bench consisting of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari held that “the constitutional structure has the freedom to complain and voice opposition, along with a duty to have those duties. It is unlikely to have the freedom to dissent anytime, wherever. Any spontaneous demonstrations can occur, but in the event of sustained opposition or agitation, there should be no continued occupancy of public space impacting the rights of others.
Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Krishna Murari, and Hrishikesh Roy’s three-judge bench pulled up the Delhi Police for not doing their job under the pretext of holding constant talks when hearing the case earlier. The following findings were taken by The Bench:
- Public areas and highways cannot be permanently occupied.
- Protests are permitted only in designated areas.
- The right to commute cannot be curtailed forever.
- The right to dissent should be matched with the right to fly.
On December 14, 2019, the Shaheen Bagh movement against the enactment of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act began. The demonstration concluded with the start of the Corona pandemic and the imposition of a nationwide shutdown after police evacuated the demonstrators from the protest site on 24 March.
The protestors subsequently wrote letters against their “forcible and vindictive removal” by the Delhi Police to the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and requested guidance from the Supreme Court for the rights of people.
The CAA gives citizenship to refugees who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, from six minority groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The Act passed on December 11, 2019, was criticized because Muslims were exempt. At least 28 individuals died in demonstrations against the Act on December, 19 of them from Uttar Pradesh itself. Many of those who died suffered wounds inflicted by bullets.