The Supreme Court, while not against the exercise of right to protest, said roads cannot be blocked as part of the farmers protest. A petition has been filed by a Noida-resident against the road blockades at Delhi-NCR region as part of the farmers protest.
A bench of Justices SK Kaul and CT Ravikumar asked an umbrella body of farmers union, Samyukta Kisan Morcha, whether they have a right to block the road. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for few of the organizations, however, highlighted that the roads are not blocked by the farmers but by the police.
“Roads aren’t blocked by us. They are blocked thanks to the Police. After stopping us, BJP had a rally at Ramleela Maidan. Why be selective?” Dave asked the court. He added that the cause of the problem was the denial of the permission to farmers to stage protests at Ramleela Maidan.
Justice Kaul said the farmers have the right to agitate in any manner but roads should not be blocked. Advocate Dave said he has travelled six times on the road. “I think better arrangements can be made by the Delhi Police. Let them allow us to come Ramleela Maidan then.” He also requested the court to refer the matter to the three-judge bench which is seized of similar issues.
But Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that this was an attempt to browbeat the bench and should not be entertained. The bench stated that it is not concerned with the larger issues but was only concerned with the issue that the roads cannot be blocked in view of the earlier orders. It said it will decide the contours of the matter first and will take a call on whether to refer to the other bench.
Earlier this month, the SC had questioned the rationale behind farmers continuing their protests, including blocking of national highways, when none of the three contentious agricultural laws are in force as all have been kept in abeyance for 18 months in January by the court after an assurance from the government to that effect.