Let everything cool down first, says SC on Shaheen Bagh
The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred the hearing on petitions seeking to shift the sit-in protests in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh. The apex court observed that the current environment was "not conducive" and urged all parties involved to allow things to cool down first. The development comes as violent communal clashes across Delhi's Northeast region have led to at least 20 deaths.
A two-judge bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph refused to pass orders on the plea on Wednesday. According to Bar & Bench, Justice Kaul observed, "All stakeholders should lower their temperature and blood pressure. This is not how a society should behave...Unfortunately, the debate is degenerating into something else, this is not healthy dissent." The bench reportedly condemned dissent through violence.
Since the mid-December Jamia Millia Islamia violence, women have led a sit-in protest at Shaheen Bagh against the contentious CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). The protesters have blocked the Jasola to Noida route via Kalindi Kunj, causing major traffic woes to Delhi-Noida commuters. The 24x7 sit-in protest has become a symbol of nationwide anger against CAA.
To recall, the Supreme Court had last week appointed senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran as interlocutors to convince Shaheen Bagh protesters to shift their protest site. The interlocutors submitted their report on Monday. Justice Kaul said today, "We have seen the report of the interlocutors. We don't want to discuss it here. We want to defer it. The environment is not conducive."
The interlocutors' report is a broad compilation of the Shaheen Bagh protesters' demands. According to The Indian Express, the apex court observed that the report has "too many ifs and buts." It has reportedly not been taken on record and remains confidential.
Separately, the apex court also dismissed a petition filed by former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, who assisted the interlocutors. Habibullah had notably advised against shifting the Shaheen Bagh protesters as it would "compromise their safety" and blamed barricading by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police for blocked roads. Habibullah's plea had sought an FIR and a court-monitored probe into the recent violence in Delhi.
Since Sunday, communal clashes across Northeast Delhi's Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Yamuna Vihar, Gokulpuri, Chand Bagh, etc., have claimed 20 lives. The SC refused to take up Habibullah's plea since the Delhi High Court is looking into the matter. The apex court, however, rapped the police for their "lack of professionalism," blaming them for "allowing instigators to get away."