Right to protest: Cannot be anywhere, everywhere says SC
New Delhi, Feb 13: The Supreme Court while rejecting petitions seeking review of its October 7 2020 order in the case concerning the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh sad that the constitutional guarantee of right to protest comes with some riders. Protests cannot be continued occupation of a public place in case of prolonged dissent, the court also ruled.
A Bench of Justices S K Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said, " we have considered the earlier judicial pronouncements and recorded our opinion that the Constitutional scheme comes with a right to protest and express dissent but with an obligation to have certain duties. The right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere. There may be some spontaneous protests but in case of prolonged dissent or protest, there cannot be continued occupation of a public place. "
We have perused the Review Petition and record of the Civil Appeal and are convinced that the order of which review has been sought, does not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration, the Bench said while rejecting a review petition.
In its October 7 order, the Bench said that while appreciating the existence of the right to peaceful protest against a legislation... we have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely.
The Bench said that the Shaheen Bagh protests was not even one of the protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters" and added "we cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest.