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Business News/ Politics / News/  SC appoints mediators to engage with protesters in Shaheen Bagh
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SC appoints mediators to engage with protesters in Shaheen Bagh

Top court clarifies it isn’t against people’s right to protest, but is concerned over blocking of public places
  • SC was hearing pleas over the road block due to the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh against CAA
  • Hundreds of people have been protesting against CAA in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for more than two months. (Photo: PTI)Premium
    Hundreds of people have been protesting against CAA in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for more than two months. (Photo: PTI)

    NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Monday appointed senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Sadhana Ramachandran to talk to the protesters at Shaheen Bagh and convince them to change the venue of their agitation so that no public place is blocked.

    The two advocates have been directed to file the mediation report before the Supreme Court by 24 February.

    “If everybody starts blocking roads even when they have genuine grievances, where will that take us?" asked Justice S.K. Kaul. “Our concern is limited. This is today one section of people. Tomorrow there can be another section in a different situation. Everybody will be on the roads."

    Democracy worked on the basis of expression of views, but there were boundaries to it, observed the bench comprising Justices Kaul and K.M. Joseph. The court clarified that it was not against people’s right to protest a law which is under challenge before the court, but on the place where the protests were being held.

    The government has held several meetings with the protesters but to no avail, said solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre. Commuters are facing major problems and even ambulances are not allowed to pass, he contended. “You cannot hold an entire city hostage under the garb of a protest," Mehta said.

    Last week, Union home minister Amit Shah had said that he was ready to meet the protesters, but it did not take place. The protesters also tried to march to Shah’s residence on Sunday, but were stopped by Delhi Police as they did not have an appointment.

    Justice Kaul told Hegde, who was in the court, that the bench would like him to play an active role in this situation. Hegde will act as interlocutor with the Shaheen Bagh protesters to clear the road. The court also allowed him to seek assistance from someone he deems fit to talk to the protesters. The bench also asked Ramachandran to assist Hegde.

    “I don’t want a message to go out that our institution is leaning before them...," said Mehta once the mediators were appointed.

    Advocate and activist Amit Sahni had filed a plea against the Shaheen Bagh protesters, saying that daily life in the area has been disrupted. “No one can be permitted to occupy a public road for any reason whatsoever and that too for an indefinite period to make others suffer for this," he said.

    Hundreds of people have been sitting-in on a stretch of road in south Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or CAA, for more than two months. This has led to frequent traffic jams.

    “My colleague Sadhana Ramachandran and I accept the responsibility placed upon us by the Supreme Court. We will meet all parties to assist them to resolve their issues in a manner that respects and safeguards both the right to protest and the requirements of orderly civic life. We hope that our assistance leads to these matters being resolved in good faith and to the satisfaction of all parties," Hegde told the media.

    Gyan Varma contributed to this story

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    Published: 17 Feb 2020, 03:27 PM IST
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