February 8, 2020 3:15:04 am
WITH THE Delhi elections in mind, the Supreme Court Friday deferred till February 10 a hearing on petitions against the closure of a key road in the capital due to the anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh. “We understand there is a problem. Will take it up Monday,” Justice S K Kaul, sitting with Justice K M Joseph, said as the plea by Advocate Amit Sahni and BJP leader Nand Kishore Garg came up.
One of the lawyers for a petitioner submitted that the polls were slated for February 8.
“You read our mind…That’s exactly why we are saying. By then, we will be in a better position to hear,” Justice Kaul said on the plea citing difficulties to local residents, businesses and commuters due to the closure of Road No 13A between Mathura Road and Kalindi Kunj by police.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court had disposed of the plea by asking police to look into it.
In his appeal, Sahni sought to know “whether the protesters have unrestricted rights under Article 19 of the Constitution of India to protest on a busy road in violation of other persons’ right to have a thoroughfare, and whether such protests can be permitted to continue especially when a particular road is blocked for over a month”.
He said that “there is no quarrel with the proposition that everyone has a right to protest but the same is subject to reasonable restrictions, which can be imposed looking into the larger public interest”.
His plea said that a Delhi Police advisory dated December 16, 2019, had informed that the road was closed for traffic movement due to the demonstration and public was advised to take other routes.
It said that “the public at large is facing huge inconvenience/hardship as the said road is blocked since 15-12-2019 and the residents, shopkeepers, children and patients are facing extreme difficulties”.
In his petition, Garg said the law enforcement machinery has been “held hostage to the whims and fancies of the protesters”, and sought the court’s intervention to formulate guidelines for protests in public places.
The petition said “it is urgently required that public places must not be allowed to be abused and misused for ulterior and mala fide purposes such as staging protest against the Constitution amendment in the heart of the capital city and, thereby, causing incalculable hardships and difficulties to the common people”.
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