Refusing to pass any order on the curbs imposed along the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch in the city, which has been closed since December 15 due to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Law, the Delhi High Court Tuesday asked Delhi Police to review the restrictions as per “the ground reality” and their “wisdom”.
The HC directed the police to keep in mind the larger public interest as well as maintenance of law and order.
“In such a situation, no specific writ, order or direction can be issued by this court as to how to handle the agitation or protest or the place of protest and the traffic. It all depends upon the ground reality and the wisdom of the police, where situations may keep changing every 10 minutes,” a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar.
The stretch was closed on December 15, 2019, after hundreds of women staged a sit-in in Shaheen Bagh to protest against CAA and NRC. The diversion has thrown traffic out of gear in South East Delhi and on the stretch leading to Noida. While the diversion was meant to be a temporary measure, it has been extended due to the continuous protests.
The court’s orders came on a PIL that sought to open the stretch as the closure was causing “inconvenience or hardships” to lakhs of commuters every day. The petition, filed advocate and social activist Amit Sahni, sought a direction to the Delhi Police Commissioner to withdraw the closure of Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh Stretch and Okhla underpass.
The High Court, however, maintained that police and other authorities had “all power, jurisdiction and authority to control the traffic whenever protests or agitations are going on in the larger public interest”.
“Whenever any agitation is going on, the situation is like fluid – keep on changing looking to the temperature of protesters and resistance by people. Police has to maintain law and order,” the HC further said.On Monday, a police officer appealed to protesters to vacate one side of the stretch, citing traffic woes and problems faced by parents who have to take a longer route to drop their children to school. But a month into their sit-in at Shaheen Bagh, women protesters have decided to stay put.
The plea said children, who take that route, are compelled to leave home two hours prior to school timing. It claimed that the authorities have failed to take appropriate action to give relief to the residents of the locality and lakhs of commuters of Delhi, UP, and Haryana.
Besides Delhi Police, the plea has made the Centre and the Delhi government as parties, seeking from them requisite assistance to the police in addressing the issue.