There can’t be a universal policy on right to protest: Apex court on Shaheen Bagh

Justice Aniruddha Bose added that the right to protest needs to be balanced out with the mobility on a public road.

Published: 22nd September 2020 08:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd September 2020 08:21 AM   |  A+A-


Anti-CAA protesters at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh protesting in February. (File Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Emphasising that people can’t claim an absolute right to protest, the Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on petitions seeking certain guidelines to strike a balance between the right to protest and right to free movement and mobility.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said it would pass an order on the larger issue even as the protesters were removed by the police on March 24 in view of Covid-19 lockdown. The observation by the bench came while hearing a batch of PILs against anti-CAA protesters blocking roads at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.

During the brief hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said: “Right to take out a procession is never taken out for an absolute right. You can’t simply go and stop a vehicular movement.”

At this, petitioners said there should be a universal policy with this regard. But the bench said: “It’s difficult. There cannot be a universal policy because situations and facts are different every time. In a parliamentary democracy, there is always an avenue of debate. The only issue is how to balance it.”

Justice Aniruddha Bose added that the right to protest needs to be balanced out with the mobility on a public road.  “The place where it becomes problematic, we have to see where it can be balanced out,” noted the bench. 

Justice Kaul also appreciated the interlocutors, who helped the court in finding a solution to the matter. The bench said the matter has become infructuous due to supervening circumstance of Covid with protestors vacating the road, but added that it will pass a short order to deal with such situations.


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