People walk past barricades at protests site in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh
People walk past barricades at protests site in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh

The Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict on Wednesday on a batch of petitions against the Shaheen Bagh protest over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) earlier this year. Delhi's Shaheen Bagh became the epicentre of the protests against the Centre's new citizenship law and proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) following police crackdown in nearby Jamia Millia Islamia.

The top court reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas against the anti-CAA protests which had led to blocking of a road in Shaheen Bagh in the national capital, beginning from last December.

The situation normalised in March due to COVID-19 pandemic fear and announcement of nationwide lockdown.

Reserving its verdict last month, the apex court said that there cannot be a "universal policy" on right to protest and possible curbs as also balancing it with acts like blocking of roads are needed because the situation may "vary" from case-to-case.

"There were some supervening circumstances which came into play and it was no one''s hand. God almighty itself intervened," said a bench comprising Justices SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari. "In parliamentary democracy protest can happen in Parliament and on roads but on road it has to be peaceful".

Reserving the verdict, the bench said that it had appointed "interlocutors" as an experiment and they had suggested some measures which can be looked into.

It said that the experiment of sending interlocutors may or may not have succeeded and the have been COVID-19 situation may also have an effect on the situation.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that the Right to protest cannot be absolute and their are some judgements to this affect.

The top court had earlier heard the pleas, filed by Sahni, former BJP MLA Nand Kishore Garg and Ashutosh Dubey, against the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh after the February 8 Delhi assembly elections.

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Free Press Journal