The SC verdict came on a number of petitions seeking guidelines and other directions on the right to protest in wake of the Shaheen Bagh protest where a group of people had gathered for months to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) blocking a key road connecting Delhi and Noida.
“Protest should be at designated places. Authorities should remove protests which are not being staged at designated places,” the SC said.
“Occupation of public places or roads by demonstrators, which cause inconvenience to a large number of people and violate their rights, is not permissible under law,” the SC bench, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and also comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, said.
The SC said right to peaceful protest is a constitutional right and it has to be respected. But that does not mean agitating people should adopt means and modes of protest that was used against colonial rulers during struggle for independence.
Thousands of people, including a large number of Muslim women, had staged a sit-in protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area blocking a stretch of GD Birla Marg since mid-December last year against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
The top court had earlier appointed senior advocates — Sanjay Hedge, Sadhana Ramachandran, and former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah — as interlocutors to talk to the protestors and convince them to demonstrate at an alternate location.
The interlocutors had submitted their report in a sealed cover in February.
The petitions filed in the matter had sought directions to the respondents, including the Centre, for laying down “detailed, comprehensive and exhaustive guidelines relating to outright restrictions for holding protest/agitation” leading to obstruction of the public space.
(With inputs from agencies)
Watch SC slams Shaheen Bagh ‘blockade’, says ‘public places cannot be occupied indefinitely by protesters’