Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Clarification of Verdict Against Shaheen Bagh Protests

On Monday, the Supreme Court of India denied a miscellaneous case seeking clarification of its judgement on the Shaheen Bagh protests, which was issued on October 7, 2020.

In a case brought by Advocate Amit Sahni to have the CAA-NRC protests removed from Shaheen Bagh, the Supreme Court ruled in October 2020 that while the right to peaceful protest against legislation exists, demonstrations expressing dissent must take place in designated areas only, and public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely.

The application for clarification was denied by a bench consisting of Justice SK Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh, who reasoned that the judgement speaks for itself and that no further explanation is required. While the Advocate on Record, Mansoor Ali, requested a brief adjournment since the arguing counsel was ill, the Bench noted that the judgement had been rendered and that the application filed was not maintainable.

The Supreme Court has stated that while there is a right to peaceful protest against legislation, such protests must take place only in defined areas.

The bench, which included Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari, stated that dissent against colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-governing democracy. According to the court, the fundamental right of every person to peacefully assemble and demonstrate against the state’s actions or inactions must be acknowledged and supported by the state.

Such occupation of public ways for protests, whether at the site in question or elsewhere, is not acceptable, and the administration should take action to keep the areas clear of encroachments or obstructions,’ Justice Kaul noted in the judgement, adding that the Shaheen Bagh protests resulted in a public way being blocked, causing severe inconvenience to commuters. ‘Such a situation does not arise in the future, and protests are subject to the legal position as enunciated above, with some sympathy and conversation, but are not permitted to get out of hand,’ the bench had said.

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