Road blockade by farmers inconveniencing commuters: SC | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday cited its own ruling that barred protesters from blocking public roads and said farmers’ grievances could be addressed either by Parliament or judiciary but they cannot be seen to cause harassment to commuters through sit-in dharnas on highways, hindering traffic to and from Delhi to neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
While dealing with Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA road blocking protests that went on for months, the SC had on October 7, 2020 ruled that “We have no hesitation in concluding that such kind of occupation of public ways, whether at the site in question or anywhere else for protests is not acceptable and the administration ought to take action to keep the areas clear of encroachments or obstructions.”
On Thursday, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M M Sundresh reminded the government of its judgment and said, “The law has already been laid down. We cannot keep repeating it again and again. It is the duty of the executive to implement it. Road blockades cannot be continued till perpetuity.”
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Haryana government had constituted a committee of senior bureaucrats to negotiate with the farmers protesting against the three farm laws for more than a year at the border point on national highways, but the farmers’ leaders did not come for the meeting. The UP government said it was making efforts to inform the agitating farmers about the illegality of blocking public roads.
The SG said the protesting farmers’ leaders and organisations should be made parties to the PIL by Monicca Agarwaal, who has complained to the SC that blockade of roads by farmers is making the commuters sweat everyday for hours to reach Delhi and travel back to their homes in neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The bench asked the SG to make an application for impleadment of farmers organisations and leaders as parties to the PIL and posted the matter for further hearing on October 4. In a lighter vein, the bench asked the SG whether this would constitute encroachment of judiciary into the domain of the executive. The SG responded by saying, when the judiciary is invited to resolve grievances on both sides — farmers and commuters — arising from road blockade, then it would not be considered as an encroachment by judiciary into executive turf.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been on sit-in protests for more than a year on highways, jamming Delhi’s three border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — to drive home their demand for repeal of the three farm laws enacted by the Centre in September last year.
In the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest case, the SC in Amit Sahni judgment had said, “While appreciating the existence of the right to peaceful protest against a legislation, we have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely. Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. We cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest.”





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