Top court refuses to revisit Shaheen Bagh protest order
The application was moved on behalf of advocate Tasneem Ahmadi who was also part of the earlier proceedings in the Supreme Court which led to the judgment of October 7, 2020 where the Court held that while democracy and dissent go hand in hand, right to protest cannot be at the cost of public inconvenience.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revisit its judgment on Shaheen Bagh protest and dismissed an application moved by a lawyer stating that the condition to seek prior permission for staging protest at a designated site should not be mandatory as it curtails right of citizens to protest peacefully.
The application was moved on behalf of advocate Tasneem Ahmadi who was also part of the earlier proceedings in the Supreme Court which led to the judgment of October 7, 2020 where the Court held that while democracy and dissent go hand in hand, right to protest cannot be at the cost of public inconvenience and hence, it must be restricted to designated sites of protest and not on public roads and spaces.
Dismissing the application, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said, “No clarification of our judgment is required. The judgment speaks for itself.”
The application, drafted by advocate Mehmood Pracha, said, “The conditions of permission and designated public place ought not to be made mandatory in case of peaceful protests expressing dissent. Inconvenience to the public has to be seen in the light of all relevant facts and a clarification in that respect is necessary to uphold the right to peaceful dissent as enunciated by this Court in its judgment of October 7, 2020.”
Presenting practical situations where permission of protest is denied by authorities or a small place is designated as protest site which cannot accommodate many protestors, the application said, “Taking the instance of the protest at Shaheen Bagh, the same could not have been shifted to Jantar Mantar which has a maximum capacity of only 1000 people…The repeated attacks and attempts to attack the ladies who were sitting in peaceful protest at Shaheen Bagh only underscores the point that if they were forced to commute to Jantar Mantar every day, they would have to face and bear the brunt of violent physical attacks.”
When the Court took up the application, advocate Mansoor Ali informed the Court that Pracha, who is to argue the plea, was stuck in another Court. Having gone through the plea, the Court found no reason to entertain the application and dismissed the same.
The applicant said, “The observations regarding protests at designated places, in the judgment as well as the observation regarding action to be taken by the administration, defeats the pious intention of this Court, of upholding the right to protest as an integral part of democracy which cannot be crushed.”
It said that the authority, when it raises a plea of public inconvenience to block protests, should be duty bound to provide a suitable site to enable the protestors to demonstrate their strength in numbers. “A suitable clarification is required to ensure that the right to dissent, as upheld by this Court, is not defeated by refusal to grant permission,” the application said, adding, “It is important to strike a balance between public convenience and the right to protest.”