Farmers can protest but Delhi can't be blocked: SC
For the second straight day, the Supreme Court spoke on the massive agitation saying that the aggrieved farmers have a right to protest but they cannot block Delhi. On Thursday, a bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said the protest can continue without violence and that "police will not do anything." SC refused to consider the validity of laws today.
Context: Farmers want government to repeal three laws, latter refused
Farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi's borders since November last week. They want the Centre, led by BJP, to repeal three controversial laws, that were passed during the Monsoon Session. The government has offered amendments but said it will not roll back the reforms. To note, five rounds of talks between both parties have remained inconclusive.
SC spoke on fundamental rights of citizens today
The matter made it to the Supreme Court when a bunch of petitions — both in favor and against the agitation were filed. During the hearing today, CJI Bobde said, "We will not decide the validity of the laws today. The first and the only thing we will decide today is regarding the farmers' protest and the fundamental right of citizens to move."
Right to protest can't dominate other rights: Salve
Harish Salve, representing a petitioner who sought removal of farmers, argued that the protest was impacting the lives of Delhi's residents, both directly and indirectly. He mentioned prices of daily goods are rising because borders are blocked. "There is a fundamental right to protest. But that has to be balanced with other fundamental rights. The price rise will lead to irreparable loss," he argued.
'Protests for the sake of protests are a public nuisance'
CJI Bobde said the purpose of any protest can only be achieved if parties talk to one another. "If the protest has a purpose other than the protest, we wish to facilitate that," he asserted. "The cause of the protest cannot be protest. The cause of protest is to articulate a view. Protests for the sake of protests are a public nuisance," Salve argued.
Once again, CJI favored an independent committee
"The aggrieved party must be able to articulate their view and the party who is said to have caused the grievance has the option to answer. We think this can be done before an independent committee. We will propose names like P Sainath," said CJI.
SC took jibe at Centre's failed attempts to placate farmers
The top court also ordered the Centre to not instigate violence. Attorney General KK Venugopal said the farmers want nothing less than a repeal of the laws. "They must be directed to come for discussion. It cannot be like 'repeal or nothing'," he said. On this, CJI said the farmers are unlikely to welcome the Centre's offers, hence, a committee will be formed.
Delhi isn't cut off, understand farmers' plight: SC
Among other things, CJI noted that Delhi isn't choking, but Salve maintained that main arterial roads have been blocked. The bench also said it understood farmers' plight. "We are Indians. We are sympathetic to the farmers," he said. He also asked Venugopal if Union can assure to not take any executive action to facilitate negotiations. Venugopal promised to respond after taking instructions.