SC says farmers can protest, but can't block roads indefinitely
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that farmers have a right to protest, but they cannot block roads indefinitely. The latest remark from the apex court came as it heard a case against road blockades at protest sites in the Delhi-NCR region. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul orally remarked that the farmers had a right to protest despite pending legal challenges in the case.
Why does it matter?
- Justice Kaul's remark comes as another SC bench is examining whether protests should be allowed when a matter is sub-judice.
- Currently allowing the protests, the SC has sought a response from farmers' organizations on the road blockades within three weeks.
- Farmers' protests have intensified since the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
- The agitation has assumed political significance ahead of Assembly elections in several states next year.
'Not averse to farmers' right to protest'
A two-judge bench led by Justice Kaul was hearing a petition filed by a Noida-resident Monicca Agarwal against road blockades. Justice Kaul said, "Ultimately, some solution has to be found. We are not averse to their right to protest even when a legal challenge is pending, but roads cannot be blocked." Redressal can be done through judicial form, agitation, or parliamentary debates, he said.
Farmers blame cops for road blockades
Appearing for the farmers, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave argued that the police has installed road blockades to prevent the protesters from entering Delhi. He said the farmers were denied permission to protest at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then cited the violence that happened during a farmers' tractor rally on Republic Day, despite assurances of peace.
Next hearing on December 7
Dave requested for the matter to be referred to a three-judge bench. SG Mehta argued that such requests are an attempt to "browbeat the bench" and should not be entertained. The SC has slated the matter for further hearing on December 7.
Protest going strong 1 year on
Various farmers' organizations have been camping around Delhi's borders for almost a year now. The farmers have been agitating against three agricultural laws passed last year. The protesters have camped on several key borders including Tikri, Singhu, and Ghazipur, adding to commuters' woes. Several rounds of talks between farmer leaders and the government have led to no resolution.
Farmers protest makes headlines again
On October 3, a farmers' rally was mowed down by the convoy of a Union Minister in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri. The incident reignited tensions and the issue took political center stage again. Several Opposition parties have voiced support for the protest. The killing of a Dalit laborer at the Singhu border protest site also stirred controversy, with Opposition parties alleging the government's hand.