Protests against CAA must stop immediately: SC taking serious note of violence
New Delhi, Dec 16: The Supreme Court on Monday took serious note of rioting and destruction of public property during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the country and said that "violence must stop immediately".
The top court said it, prima facie, does not think court can do much in the matter as it is a law and order problem and police forces have to control it.
The apex court, which agreed to hear on Tuesday pleas alleging police atrocities on students holding protests against the Act at Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia here, said it will not hear this issue in such an atmosphere of violence.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said, "We are not here to blame anybody. All we are saying is that this violence must stop."
"If protests and violence and damage of public property will be there, we will not hear the matter," it added.
The bench, also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, made the observations after a group of lawyers led by senior advocate Indira Jaising and Colin Gonsalves urged it to take suo motu cognisance of the alleged violence unleashed against protesting students.
"We will determine everything but not in this atmosphere of violence. What is this? Public properties are being destroyed, buses are being burnt," the bench said.
When the advocates insisted that the court must take cognisance of the issue, the CJI said, "We are not to be bullied like this. If you want the court to hear the matter then this violence has to stop."
The bench said, "Prima facie, we do not see that court can do much about it. It is a law and order problem and police has to control the situation."
At the outset, Jaising said that the apex court should take suo motu cognisance of the violence unleashed on students all over the country, especially in Aligarh Muslim University.
She told the court she has received messages from the students that they are feeling helpless as no one is there to look after them. The senior lawyer said serious violence has taken place against the students who were protesting peacefully and several of them have been hospitalised with broken limbs and are running helter-skelter.
"It is serious human rights violation," Jaising said, adding that when there was a clash between lawyers and police at a district court premises here, the Delhi High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and passed orders.
"No one can stop peaceful demonstrations. We don't want any rioting. These riotings have been engineered and blamed on students," Jaising said.
Gonsalves told the court that he had visited the hospital and lockup on Sunday where students form Jamia Millia Islamia were kept by the police. The bench asked the group of lawyers not to speak in unison and argue one by one.
"We are not here to blame anybody. All that we are saying is we want the riot to stop," it said, adding, "But first stop the violence. If you want to go to streets like this we can't help you. We are not against peaceful demonstration".
Gonsalves said that he is for the students and the court should consider what the Vice Chancellor of AMU and Chief Proctor of Jamia Millia Islamia have said over the violence on their campuses.
"I understand that court cannot be taken to ransom. I want only one thing that court should constitute a committee of former judges to go to AMU and see what is happening there," Gonsalves said.
To this, the bench said, "We will do that but let there be peace first. We don't know what is happening. If the protests and violence continue, we will not here you."
The bench then asked the lawyers to file their petitions and said it would hear them on Tuesday. Students of Jamia Millia Islamia and locals protested at Jamia Nagar in Delhi on Sunday against the amended Citizenship Act.
Protesters torched four buses and two police vehicles as they clashed with police in New Friends Colony. Police baton charged the protesters and used tear gas shells to disperse the mob before entering the varsity campus, detaining several persons allegedly involved in the violence.
Later in the day, a plea was filed by present and ex-students of Jamia Millia Islamia, led by Vani Xaxa and others, seeking appointment of an independent judicial inquiry by a retired apex court or high court judge into the entire episode of Sunday and for fixing the responsibilities for the lapses.
The plea also sought directions to the Centre to forthwith remove the Delhi Police as well as allied forces deployed by it from the precincts of the university.
It also sought directions to forthwith release of bona fide students of the varsity who were illegally detained by the Delhi Police from the precincts of the university on December 15, in the midst of the ongoing peaceful and democratic protest.
The plea sought directions to the Registrar of the University to freeze the CCTV footage recorded by the Proctor's Office, Students Affairs' Section and Office of the Security Advisor, for the purpose of judicial inquiry.