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Occupying Shaheen Bagh for protests “indefinitely” not acceptable: SC

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Occupying public places like Shaheen Bagh for protests is not acceptable and such a space cannot be occupied indefinitely, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.

A three-judge bench delivered the verdict on a batch of petitions that called for a decision if there can be “an indefinite period of protests in a common area (that) creates inconvenience for others”.

The bench had reserved its verdict at the last hearing on September 21. “We have to balance the right to protest and blocking of roads. In a parliamentary democracy, protests can happen in parliament and on roads. But on roads, it has to be peaceful,” the bench had said at the time.

The court had earlier noted that there cannot be a “universal policy” since circumstances may “vary” from case-to-case.

What did Supreme Court say?

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice SK Kaul held that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely like during the Shaheen Bagh protests. The bench also comprised of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Krishna Murari.

It also said that Delhi Police ought to have taken action to clear Shaheen Bagh area from the protesters. The Supreme Court added that authorities have to act on their own and cannot hide behind courts.

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“Democracy and dissent go hand in hand,” it said, adding that the authorities have to act on their own and cannot hide behind courts in dealing with such a situation.

Shaheen Bagh protests

Shaheen Bagh became the epicentre of the anti-CAA protests as women with young children staged a sit-in there for over three months.

The protest at Shaheen Bagh ended in March this year in view of the COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent lockdown announced by the government to contain the spread of the disease.

The Shaheen Bagh protest attracted global attention, with foreign media also reporting on the protests. The protestors have termed CAA as anti-Muslim.

 

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