Shaheen Bagh protest: Won't examine interlocutors report as environment not conducive, says Supreme Court

The apex court fixes the matter for further hearing to March 23. The court also termed incidents of violence in Delhi as unfortunate but refused to entertain pleas on them.

Shaheen Bagh protest: Won't examine interlocutors report as environment not conducive, says Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday (February 26) said it will not examine the interlocutors report as the atmosphere is not conducive while hearing the pleas seeking removal of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters from Delhi's Shaheen Bagh area. 

The apex court fixes the matter for further hearing to March 23. The court also termed incidents of violence in Delhi as unfortunate but refused to entertain pleas on them. The SC division bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul along with Justice KM Joseph heard the matter today.

The division bench made the following observations:

1. Justice Joseph said that people should be allowed to stage protest, adding that "We are not talking about CAA" but people should have the right to protest.

2. The Court also questioned if the public area can be used for dharna or not.

3. Demonstrations should be done in such a way that the road is not blocked, said the top court, adding "Our concern is that if roads or public places are being blocked this way it will create a problem.

4. The court said "no matter how valid the reason for protest, blockade of roads should not take place this way.

5. Democracy operates through the expression of people but it has a limit. If all the roads are closed then there will be trouble. Traffic should not stop, said the Supreme Court.

6. The SC said that our concern is that people will take an idea from here and close the road in other areas too. 

7. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that protesters can not be permitted to hold the city hostage, the way rad is completely blocked, adding "We are meeting them as well as trying to convince them that they cannot take the entire city hostage." 

8. Supreme Court asked senior lawyer Sanjay Hegde, present in the courtroom, to talk to protesters and try to convince them. The court asked him why is he not going there to persuade the protesting people.

9. The Solicitor General said that a message should not go that the institution (apex court) is bowing before protestors.

10. "We have made our wish clear. Hopefully, things will change but if it doesn't happen then the authority concerned will be free to take action," said the SC.

11. The court also rapped Delhi police for not taking action against people who made inflammatory remarks before communal violence broke out in North East Delhi.

12. It also questioned the Centre for not taking steps to allow Delhi Police to work professionally and as per law without taking instructions from anyone.

13. The Supreme Court said that an unfortunate incident took place in Delhi, and this should not have happened. "We cannot extend the scope of this petition beyond the Shaheen Bagh jam case.

14. Justice KM Joseph said, “The problem is lack of professionalism of police. If this had been done before, this situation would not have risen." "Lack of professionalisation of police is the main problem. If you allow people to getaway. If you allow the way law requires, there will be a difference. Do that! If this is done all these things would not have happened," he added.

15. Solicitor General said that we are not aware of the ground realities in which the police officials function, adding that the DCP is on the ventilator as he was virtually lynched.

16. "Unless you do not get the police to act. Look at how police acts in UK. Do they require somebody's nod? If someone makes an inflammatory remark, police swings into action," Justice Joseph added.

The top court-appointed interlocutors had submitted their report in a sealed cover on Monday. Senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran had last week engaged with the anti-CAA protestors for shifting the venue from Shaheen Bagh. 

Former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah had also submitted an affidavit in the apex court saying that the Shahen Bagh protest is largely peaceful and blamed the police for the "unnecessarily blocking the roads". He also recommended that the government should speak to the protestors on CAA, NPR and NRC to sort out the issue. 

Notably, a large number of people including Muslim women have been staging a protest at Delhi`s Shaheen Bagh area against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) since mid-December last year.

Public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Nand Kishore Garg and Amit Sahni through their lawyer Shashank Deo Sudhi, seeking appropriate directions to the Centre and others concerned for removal of protestors from the Shaheen Bagh.

At least 20 deaths have been reported in the violence that erupted in parts of north-east Delhi between protesters in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and those who opposed it.