NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court said it will hear the pleas against the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh next week as it did not want to "influence" the February 8 Delhi assembly elections by hearing the matter on Friday.
"We understand there is a problem and we have to see how to resolve it. We will take it up on Monday. We will be in a better position by then," a bench comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
When an advocate appearing for one of the petitioners said that voting for Delhi election is scheduled on February 8, the bench noted, "That is exactly why we are saying come on Monday. Why should we influence it?" The bench also asked the petitioners to come prepared on Monday to argue on why the matter should not be remitted back to the Delhi High Court.
"We think it would be appropriate if the high court deals with the matter. The high court is the appropriate forum and we can issue directions to this effect," the bench said.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by advocate Amit Sahni, who had approached the high court seeking directions to the Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, which was blocked by anti-CAA protesters on December 15.
The high court had urged local authorities to deal with the situation keeping in mind law and order.
Separately, former Delhi MLA Nand Kishore Garg, through his counsel Shashank Deo Sudhi, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking directions to authorities to remove the protestors from Shaheen Bagh.
Restrictions have been imposed on the Kaindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch and the Okhla underpass, which were closed on December 15 last year due to the protests against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The plea has said that various other arterial roads of Delhi have been facing traffic congestion due the protest at Shaheen Bagh.
Saying that the law enforcement machinery has been "held hostage to the whims and fancies of the protesters," the plea has sought to lay down of guidelines for protests leading to obstruction of a public place.
"It is disappointing that the state machinery is muted and a silent spectator to hooliganism and vandalism of the protesters who are threatening the existential efficacy of the democracy and the rule of law and had already taken the law and order situation in their own hand," the plea said.
It said the Shaheen Bagh protest is "undoubtedly within the constitutional parameter" but it has lost its legality as constitutional protection were being "blatantly and brazenly flouted and violated".
The state has a duty to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens, who have been facing trouble due to the road blockade, it said.
"Hence, it is urgently required that the public places must not be allowed to be abused and misused for ulterior and mala fide purposes such as staging a protest against the constitutional amendment in the heart of the capital city and thereby causing incalculable hardships and difficulties to the common people," it said.
It said a similar plea was filed by another litigant in the Delhi High Court, which on January 14 directed the local authority to deal with the situation.
The litigant has filed an appeal in the apex court against the high court order and sought supervision of the situation in Shaheen Bagh by a retired Supreme Court judge or a sitting judge of the Delhi High Court.
Sahni has filed a special leave petition in the apex court against the high court's order directing the local authority to deal with the situation keeping in mind the law and order.
The plea has sought directions to the police to ensure smooth traffic flow on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch.
It has sought supervision of the situation in Shaheen Bagh, where several women are sitting on protest, by a retired Supreme Court judge or a sitting judge of the Delhi High Court in order to circumvent any violence.