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Atmosphere not conducive: SC defers Shaheen Bagh hearing

February 26, 2020
Shaheen Bagh 6
New Delhi: Poeple Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), underway at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh on Feb 22, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred the hearing on petitions to remove the anti-citizenship law protesters from Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to March 23 saying that the environment is not conducive to hear PILs.

“Environment isn’t very conducive to hear Shaheen Bagh protests case. Sanity has to be maintained by everyone when a matter is to be heard,” a bench of Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph observed.

“Let everything cool down first. There are larger issues that need to be handled right now. I expect both sides to act responsibly,” Justice Kaul said as the matter was adjourned to March 23.

The development comes after the top court-appointed interlocutors on Monday filed their report in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court on the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Advocate Sadhna Ramachandran, who was appointed an interlocutor along with senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, placed the report before a bench of Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.

The bench, which took on record the report, had said that it would peruse it and the matter would be heard on February 26.

The court also noted the inability of the police to work without taking instruction from anyone, which resulted in the spreading of the violence that erupted on February 23.

Referring to the violent clashes in the northeast Delhi, which have claimed 20 lives so far, the bench today observed, “The problem is lack of professionalisation of police. And their lack of independence. If the police acts completely in accordance with the law, many of these problems won’t take place. If someone makes an inflammatory remark, police will swing into action but not otherwise.”

“Administration will determine who is responsible for all this, we don’t want to say anything at this stage, Justice Kaul said.

Justice Kaul, however, reiterated that indefinite protests cannot be held on public roads.

In the meantime, two roads, shut due to the Shaheen Bagh protests, were reopened for brief hours to ease the traffic.

The passage between Kalindi Kunj to Nodia (via Road No. 9, Okhla) which was blocked for more than two months due to the protests was opened briefly on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, the Noida-Faridabad road, near Shaheen Bagh was opened briefly for about 40 minutes to ease traffic congestion.

The apex court had on February 4 asked senior advocate Sanjay Hegde to “play a constructive role as an interlocutor” and talk to the Shaheen Bagh protesters to move to an alternative site where no public place would be blocked.

Shaheen Bagh has been the epicentre of the anti-CAA agitation as the protesters have been sitting at the venue since December 15 demanding the withdrawal of the Act which they alleged to be anti-Muslim.

Two petitions before the Supreme Court had sought direction from the court to the Centre, police and state government to take immediate steps to remove protesters from Shaheen Bagh.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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