NEW DELHI: Stating that farmers have a right to protest but roads cannot be blocked indefinitely, the Supreme Court on Thursday gave three weeks to farmer bodies to respond to a petition seeking directions to end blocking of roads connecting NCR regions to the national capital by farmers protesting farm laws.
A bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “I am not averse to their right to protest even when a legal challenge is pending. But roads can’t be blocked. Some solution has to be found.”
Appearing for farm unions, advocate Dushyant Dave blamed the police for creating blockades and causing inconvenience to commuters. “I have travelled on these roads. These farmers have parked themselves on the side. The problem is the way the police have put up the barricades.”
When Solicitor Genral Tushar Mehta spoke about the Red Fort violence on Republic Day, Dave shot back. “An independent probe will establish it was engineered. All those arrested for violence have got bail.”
The court said it was more concerned about finding a solution. Justice Kaul told Mehta the court had laid down the law and methodology and it was up to the administration to implement it. “We cannot keep laying down the law each time,” the judge said, slating the hearing for December 7.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a Noida resident seeking directions to remove the farmers camping at Delhi’s borders since last November, demanding a repeal of the three contentious farm laws. Dave demanded the matter be sent to a three-judge bench as the earlier case on the issue had been dealt with by one.
“The court has categorically stated our right to protest is sacrosanct and it will not interfere with the present protest as long as it is non-violent,” Dave added. Mehta objected to Dave’s submission, terming it an attempt to browbeat the bench.