Shaheen Bagh: SC appoints mediators for venue change

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said it is troubling to see protesters blocking the road as it may set a bad precedent, and suggested that the protest may shift to an alternate venue.

The top court also appointed three interlocutors led by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde to talk to the Shaheen Bagh protestors regarding change in the protest site, and file report in court.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph, citing replication of protests involving blocking of public roads, said: “We are concerned, what will happen if people start hitting the streets and blocking the roads while protesting….it is a concern.”

The court suggested that the Delhi Police may also offer an alternative site to the protesters at Shaheen Bagh. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended before the court that protesters can”t continue blocking roads on grounds of not getting an alternative site.

To this, the court replied: “It is fundamental right of people to protest and people can protest.”

Mehta also contended that the message that every institution has been kneeling and praying to the protesters should not go out.

“For some reasons, you have not gone there. If nothing works out, we will leave it to you,” the bench told Mehta, who insisted that talks were held with welfare and market associations to lift restrictions on road.

The court also observed that the authorities should favourably consider this aspect of right to protest. The other two interlocutors on the matter are advocate Sadhna Ramachandran and former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.

The apex court observed that it is not saying that people have no right to protest against a law while the matter is pending in the top court, but the question is where to protest.

The apex court has scheduled next hearing on the matter on February 24.