Let the Shaheen Bagh matter cool down, first: SC adjourns hearing till 23 March
New Delhi, Feb 26: The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on pleas challenging the ongoing protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 at New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh till 23 March and said the bench will examine the report submitted by its mediators in the meantime.
The apex court also pulled up Delhi police for not being able to handle the violence in northeast Delhi.
The bench headed by Justice Kishan Kaul said, "Let the matter cool down, first."
When the issue relating to the Jafrabad violence was brought up, the court said that unfortunate things have happened. It should not have happened. But we will not expand the scope of the petition as it would look as though we are trying to take over.
To this solicitor general, Tushar Mehta said, " please do not say such things. It will legitimise the incidents. There are why's, whats and how's."
The court then said that the environment is not conducive to hear the matter. Equanimity needs to be maintained. Now if you are saying that the Delhi High Court is looking into the issue, then let it go ahead. Mehta then said that let it not mean that this environment be continued.
Justice K M Joseph who is on the Bench with Justice Sanjay Kaul said that unless you get the police, it will not work. Look at how the police acts in the UK. Do they require somebody's nod? If somebody makes an inflammatory statement, they swing into action, the judge also said.
On Monday, the court-appointed interlocutors filed their report in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court on the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh.
Advocate Sadhna Ramachandran, who was appointed an interlocutor along with senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, placed the report before a bench of justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
It made it clear that the report of interlocutors will not be shared with the petitioners and counsels representing the Centre and Delhi Police at this stage.
At the outset, Ramachandran told the court that she is grateful for the opportunity given to her and the interlocutors had a learning experience which was positive also.
When the counsel for one of the petitioners said the report be shared with them also, the bench said, "We are here. Everyone is here. Let us have the benefit of the report first. The copy of the report is for the court only."
Former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah had earlier told the top court that the protest was peaceful and inconvenience being caused to commuters was due to barricades "unnecessarily" put by police on roads far away from the site.
The same stand has been taken by social activist Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad in their joint affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in the matter. Habibullah, Azad and Naqvi have jointly filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court which is seized of the matter.
The court had earlier said that though people have a fundamental right to protest "peacefully and lawfully", it was troubled by the blocking of a public road at Shaheen Bagh as it might lead to a "chaotic situation".
Naqvi and Azad, in their joint affidavit, have alleged that "the present ruling dispensation, at the behest of its political masters, had devised a strategy of extinguishing these protests by falsely attributing violence and acts of vandalism to peaceful protestors".
Habibullah, in his affidavit, has also stated that the protestors have asked him to convey to the Supreme Court that their dissent "was out of desperation and compulsion" as they see the CAA, National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) as a "death knell" for their and future generations' survival and existence.
Restrictions have been imposed on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch and the Okhla underpass, which were closed on December 15 last year due to protests against CAA and NRC.
Separately, former BJP MLA Nand Kishore Garg has filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking directions to authorities to remove protestors from Shaheen Bagh.