Can’t block roads indefinitely: Supreme court on farmer’s protests.

“ The supreme court has said it was not against the farmers right to protest but public roads can’t be blocked like this”

Updated: October 21, 8:50p.m.

Source: ANI | Written By: Maheswar Thampi

Representative image (ANI)

The supreme court on Thursday said, the farmers have the right to protest but cannot block roads intriguingly. The court was hearing a petition seeking the removal of protesters from the roads. “Ultimately some solution has to be found. We are not against their right to protest even when a legal challenge is pending, but roads cannot be blocked’, a bench of Justices S K Kaul and C T Ravikumar said.

  Senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the farmer unions, read out the Supreme Court order dated December 17, 2020, when the former Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde-led bench had observed, “Right to protest is sacrosanct. We cannot pass directions to remove protesters” and referring to the earlier observation he said, “The court had specifically noted that there was no order as long as the protests remain peaceful. This matter is getting attention. There are multiple petitions on the issue.”

 Responding to Dave, the court said, “We are not going to get into this.”The court also reminded that blocking the road denies the freedom of movement of another citizen. But the farmer’s organizations said police had detained the protesters on the road. The crisis was due to the lack of police arrangements and the protesters should be allowed to at Ramlila Maidan or Jantan Mantar, in the national capital to continue their protests against the agricultural law,  the farmer’s organisation added.

Farmers protest (Indian Express)

However, the central government strongly opposed the statement Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the union government, argued in court that the country witnessed the republic day clashes when it was allowed to protest in Delhi, which left several hundreds injured and others killed. The apex court was hearing a petition filed by Monica Agarwal, a resident of Noida, alleging that they were facing delays in going to work due to road blockades.

Intriguingly, only a few weeks ago another bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar had objected to farmers’ protests stating that since the Farm Laws have been legally challenged before the top court, farmers’ associations should not be protesting with respect to the same. The court had made a similar reference while considering a petition filed by farmers seeking permission to protest at Jantar Mantar and observed that the protesting farmers were suffocating Delhi. The court had then asked the Central govt, UP and Haryana governments to find a solution to the issue. Mehta replied that a high-level committee had been set up to discuss the issue but the protesting organizations were not cooperating with the committee.

Farmers organizations are protecting by blocking the road demanding the repeal of three laws issued by the central government against farmers. After hearing the arguments from all sides, the bench had asked, ‘’ How can highways be blocked perpetually? Where does it end?. The court gave the farmer’s organizations three weeks to respond court directed the hearing to December 7.