"You Are Strangulating Delhi": SC Tells Farmers There Is A Right To Protest, But Also A Right To Use Public Roads, And Free Movement

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 2, 2021 12:16 PM +05:30 IST
"You Are Strangulating Delhi": SC Tells Farmers There Is A Right To Protest, But Also A Right To Use Public Roads, And Free MovementFarmers holding people to ransom by blocking highways to Delhi.
Snapshot
  • “You are even obstructing defence personnel’s movement. You block trains and then say you are protesting peacefully. There is no point in continuing to protest once you have come to the court,” Justice Khanwilkar stated.

On Friday (1 October), the Supreme Court said that the farm laws protesters were “strangulating the city [New Delhi]” by blocking the highways.

The case pertained to a petition filed by Kisan Mahapanchayat, a farmers’ body, for a direction to the Delhi Police to permit them to go on satyagraha at the heart of the city, at Jantar Mantar.

The bench led by Justice A M Khanwilkar was hearing the case. “You have been strangulating the entire city and blocking highways... Now you want to enter the city and protest here?” Justice Khanwilkar said.

He further asked why the farmers’ organisations continued with protests even after the laws were under challenge in the apex court.

“Are you then protesting against the judiciary? Once you have approached the court, let the law take its own course... Instead, you continue with the protests and block the national highways... You have to trust us,” Justice Khanwilkar was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

He further asked the farmers, “Have you taken permission of the citizens living nearby [the highways which are blocked by the protesters]? There is a right to protest, but there is a right to use public roads and free movement.”

In response, the mahapanchayat’s counsel Ajay Choudhary blamed the police for blocking the highways and not farmers, who, according to him, only stressed on their right to protest peacefully.

“You are even obstructing defence personnel’s movement. You block trains and then say you are protesting peacefully. There is no point in continuing to protest once you have come to the court,” Justice Khanwilkar stated.

On Thursday (30 September), the Supreme Court had said that the blocking of highways could not go on perpetually.

It asked the government to take the initiative to ensure that the protesting farmer groups, who are blocking the capital’s arterial border roads with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, were made parties in efforts to resolve the matter.

The suggestion came from the Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta himself, who told the apex court that the farmers were refusing to participate in talks before a high-level committee, and sections of the highways had become inaccessible due to their protests.

A bench led by Justice S K Kaul stated that the issue could be resolved either through Parliament debates or in the judicial forum but the blocking of highways, inconveniencing commuters, could not go on perpetually.

This was when the court was hearing a petition filed by Noida resident Monica Agarwal that the blocks caused by the protesters had turned her daily commute between Noida and Delhi into a nightmare.

The court urged the government to file an application seeking permission to implead farmers’ bodies in the case, instead of depending upon aggrieved private citizens like Agarwal since they wouldn't be able to know which organisations have to be made parties in the case.

The next hearing of the case will be on Monday.

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