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New Delhi, February 10, 2020
Making a significant observation on the blockade at Shaheen Bagh by anti-CAA protesters in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Monday said that "you can't block public roads indefinitely" and that the "protests can't continue like this in public places".
Hearing a plea for directions to the authorities to remove the Shaheen Bagh blockade, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph issued notices to Delhi Police and others and scheduled the next hearing on the matter for February 17.
During the hearing on the matter, Justice Kaul said that the protest at Shaheen Bagh had continued for many days now. "You cannot just block the road. There cannot be an indefinite protest in public areas. Then, everybody will protest everywhere," Justice Kaul said.
The court however declined to issue any direction without hearing the other party, including Delhi Police.
"Is there anybody present from the government's side? We will issue the notice," said the bench. The Centre's counsel was not present during the brief hearing.
The court observed that protests cannot be carried out at the cost of citizens' interests.
"There is a law and the people have a grievance against this law; but the matter is pending in the court. Despite this, some people are protesting; they are entitled to protest," said the bench.
The court observation came after counsel Mehmood Pracha for Bhim Army chief Chandershekhar Azad contended that the matter is about balancing rights.
Justice Joseph agreed to the observation and asked: "Can you block a public road?"
Justice Kaul observed that protests cannot be held in parks, too, and there should be designated areas for holding protests.
Advocate Amit Sahni had moved the apex court to seek directions to the authorities to remove the blockade at Shaheen Bagh, through which the main road connecting Kalindi Kunj and Noida passes.
As the hearing was drawing to an end, counsel for another petitioner urged the court to issue any direction in the interest of people facing problems due to the road blockade. The court said: "You have waited for over 50 days; you can wait for a few more days."