BY : Aparna Rajesh
The passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act has incited protests from various parts of the country. Among them, the most famous and the one that is still going on is the Shaheen Bagh protests that is taking place in Delhi even now. The Shaheen Bagh protest is a sit in protest led by the women against the CAA. It is a peaceful one that began after the police attack on the students of Jamia Milia who were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The protest is not only one against the CAA NRC but also against the rise in price of commodities as well as for women safety. From 15 th December onwards, the protests had started and has been blocking the highway in New Delhi. The protest doesn’t have any leader. The blockade has led to the stopping of vehicles in the highway causing problems. It is reportedly causing problems to more than 10000 vehicles. This protest as turned into an anti – BJP protest. This is now the longest ongoing protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
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Different petitions have been filed in the Delhi High Court and the court had refused to consider the first two pleas. A total of five petitions have been filed against this protest. Out of the pleas, a third one which was concerned about the protests having the probability of affecting the board examinations, was considered by the Delhi High Court asking the police to look into the matter. Two pleas were filed against the protest in the Supreme Court regarding the protest. Prior to the day of Delhi election, the Supreme Court declined to pass orders that would clear the Shaheen Bagh protest. The petitioner to the case was a lawyer named Amit Sahni. He had raised the same plea in the Delhi High Court but the case was disposed of by the High Court and the police was asked to look into the matter but there was no issuing of formal order. The bench that considered the case comprised of judges Justice S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph. The bench adjourned the plea till 10 th of February. Then, the lawyer who gave the petition, urged for the quicker initiation of actions because the following day is the date fixed for the Delhi Assembly election.
QUESTION OF LAW:
The judge, in the case, told the Delhi Assembly Election was the precise reason for the decision taken by the court. The court for the case was adjourned till Monday due to the election. Justice Kaul asked the petitioner to wait till the date, that, 10 th of February. Till then, the court will not consider the case. The petition had challenged that there has been a situation of alarm leading to the blockade of the road from Kalindi Kunj and Mathura Road that connects Delhi-Noida-Delhi. This has led to the traffic being converted leading to more crowded roads causing a lot of distress for the people, including those who are in the proximity of the road.
The petitioner has also questioned the protest on the grounds of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. He challenges the High Court decision of not issuing a formal order for his plea. He says that the citizens do have the right to protest peacefully but that shall not hinder the liberty of fellow citizens. He further says that these kinds of public dissent are subjected to reasonable restrictions especially when the Shaheen Bagh protest has been continuing for over a month. He adds that this has led to the wastage of time, fuel, energy, etc. The petitioner has called this situation as extremely serious and sensitive. He also tells that the incidents should never be considered as trivial and that the authorities can never remain as “mute spectators”.
The petitioner, Mr. Sahni has pleaded the Supreme Court to take actions that balances the needs of both the sides. Indeed, the court should take such a decision. It is true that every citizen, in a democracy, has the right to express their dissent on the government decisions. But such an expression should not be at the suffering of the other citizens. The freedom of everyone will have to be taken into account and hence, the Supreme Court will have to give judgement balancing the liberty of both the protestors as well as the those affected by it.