Friday, June 25, 2021

Right to Protest Cannot Be Anytime and Everywhere, Says Supreme Court

The right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere, the Supreme Court said as it dismissed a plea seeking review of its verdict passed last year in which it had held the occupation of public ways during the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh here was not acceptable.

Twelve activists had filed a review petition on the last year ruling of the Supreme Court terming the anti-citizenship law protests held at Shaheen Bagh to be illegal. “The right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere.

There may be some spontaneous protests but in case of prolonged dissent or protest, there cannot be continued occupation of public place affecting rights of others,” the three-judge bench of Justices SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said while dismissing a plea by one Shaheen Bagh resident Kaniz Fatima and others seeking review of last year”s verdict of October 7.

Though the review petition was decided on February 9, the order came late last night. The three-judge bench reiterated that public places cannot be occupied for protests and that public protests must be “in designated areas alone”. “Dissent and democracy go hand in hand,” the top court had observed in its October 2020 verdict, stressing that “protests like these are not acceptable”.

Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh had emerged as the epicentre of anti-CAA protests in 2019 where the protesters- mostly women and children – sat for more than three months. The Shaheen Bagh protests had received worldwide attention and the Time Magazine honoured 82-year-old Bilkis dadi, the face of the movement, as one of the 100 “most influential people of 2020”.

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