Delhi/ Supreme Court appoints mediators to talk to Shaheen Bagh protesters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Monday that people have a fundamental right to protest against a law but the blocking of public roads is a matter of concern and there has to be a balancing factor.

Hearing pleas over the road blocks due to the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act, a bench comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said its concern is about what will happen if people start protesting on roads.

Democracy works on expressing views but there are lines and boundaries for it, the bench said.

It asked senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Sadhana Ramachandran to talk to Shaheen Bagh protesters and persuade them to move to an alternative site where no public place is blocked.

The matter has been posted for next hearing on February 24.

People have a fundamental right to protest but the thing which is troubling us is the blocking of public roads, the bench said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Shaheen Bagh protesters should not be given a message that every institution is on its knees trying to persuade them on this issue.

The apex court said that if nothing works, we will leave it to the authorities to deal with the situation.

Protesters have made their point and the protests have gone on for quite some time, it said.

Restrictions have been imposed on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch and the Okhla underpass, which were closed on December 15 last year due to the protests against CAA and Register of Citizens.

The top court had earlier said the anti-CAA protesters at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh cannot block public roads and create inconvenience for others.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by advocate Amit Sahni, who had approached the Delhi high court seeking directions to the Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, which was blocked by anti-CAA protesters on December 15.

Separately, former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Nand Kishore Garg has filed a petition in the apex court seeking directions to the authorities to remove the protestors from Shaheen Bagh.