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You have a right to protest, but cannot block roads, SC tells farmers

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Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Dec 17: The Supreme Court has said that the farmers have a right to protest. We will not interfere with their right, but the manner of the protest is something that we will look into, the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde said.

We are going to ask the government of India to see what manner of protest on to slightly change it so that it does not affect the citizens' right of movement.

Farmers’ protest constitutional as long as it does not destroy property or endanger life: SC

Senior counsel arguing for a Delhi citizen said that curtailment of goods vehicles movement will see prices go up.

One Constitutional right has to be balanced with another. Free speech cannot hold a city to ransom. The most precious right is the right to life, he also said.

Salve further said that the blockade is to bring the Centre to its knees. He said he is not about curtailing free speech, but is on the contours of right to free speech. Free speech cannot affect right to free movement. He further highlighted how blockades affects the right to life during COVID-19.

The CJI said that we cannot curtail their right to protest. We cannot ask them to give deposits so that they can protest. To this Salve said that people should know that they will be visited with consequences, if they do damage.

Salve also said that the government must call the farmer leaders and get a declaration that I am leading the protest, so that if there is damage they can be held accountable. This cannot be amorphous.

Attorney General, K K Venugopal told the court that the farmers are adamant. They do not want to discuss anything until the laws are repealed. None of them wear masks, they sit together in large numbers. COVID-19 is a concern.

They will visit their villages and spread it there. Farmers cannot violate fundamental rights of others the AG also said. To this the CJI said that they will say you are adamant and hence we want a discussion.

Appearing for the Delhi government, advocate Rahul Mishra said that this is a mischievous petition. He also said that the figures on the blockades are wrong. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta replying to Mishra said that this is not the time for a Centre vs Delhi dispute. That will not help the court.

The CJI said that if their protest has a purpose other than just to protest, we are thinking of an independent committee before whom both sides can state their case. We do not have to learn about non-violence from anyone, CJI Bobde said while citing our independence struggle. We are thinking in terms of a committee of independent members who have knowledge about agriculture and hear both sides and give suggestions.

Justice Bobde said sai that the Centre and farmers have to talk. We are thinking of an impartial and independent committee before whom both the parties can give its side of the story, the CJI also said. The committee will give a finding which should be followed and until such time, the protest can go on, the CJI also said.

The independent committee can have P Sainath, Bharatiya Kisan Union and others as members, the CJI suggested.

The CJI asked the BKU's advocate to suggest persons for the committee. The CJI also told the advocate that by blocking Delhi, the people may go hungry. You have the right, but you have purpose. That purpose is served only f you talk, discuss and reach a conclusion.

The CJI said that notices have to go to all protesting farmers' bodies, while suggesting that the matter be placed before the Vacation Bench. The AG informed the court that the notice has to be served to all farmers' representatives who have been part of the government talks so far.

The Bench has risen indicating that it will not pass any order and may simply adjourn the matter to January with the liberty to move the Vacation Bench. The Bench also asked the Centre to explore the possibility if the legislations could be put on hold.

Appearing for the Punjab government, senior advocate, P Chidambaram said that the state has no objection to the court's suggestion that a group of people can facilitate dialogue. It is for the farmers and Centre to decide on who will be on the committee, he also said.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had issued notices to the Centre on a plea that sought removal of the farmers blocking the roads at the Delhi borders.

The petition has been filed by Rishabh Sharma, a law student. He said that the commuters are facing hardship due to the road blockages and the gatherings may lead to an increase in number of COVID-19 cases.

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