Farmers Have Right To Protest, But Can’t Block Roads Indefinitely, Says SC

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The Supreme Court on Thursday said that farmers have the right to protest but roads cannot be blocked indefinitely.

This comes while hearing plea against the blockade of roads between Delhi to Noida due to farmers’ protests against the three agriculture laws. A Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked farmers unions to file their response in two weeks on the petition seeking removal of protesting farmers from roads and posted the matter for hearing on December 7.

“You may have a right to agitate in any manner but roads should not be blocked,” Justice Kaul told farmers unions. Justice Kaul further said, “Ultimately some solution has to be found. I am not averse to their right to protest even when the legal challenge is pending, but roads cannot be blocked.”

The Bench said that the law is laid down and there is nothing more to be laid down.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for one of the farmers’ unions argued before the top court that roads are not blocked by farmers; a certain part of the roads are blocked because of the way Delhi police made arrangements.

“It suits them to allow a feeling that farmers have blocked the roads. I have travelled six times on the road. I think that better arrangements can be made by the Delhi police. They should allow us in Ramleela Maidan, but they stopped us and after that they allowed BJP to hold a rally in Ramleela Maidan,” Dave said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre said that a committee was constituted by the government and farmers unions even refused to participate in the meetings. Agitation of farmers is for some other reasons, SG added.

Earlier, the apex court had issued notice to 41 farmers’ organisations in an application seeking to make them parties before the top court in a PIL against the blockade of roads.
The government had filed an application where it had impleaded various farmers’ unions as parties in the plea filed by a woman resident of Noida to remove the road blockade which is causing inconvenience to people. Earlier, the Bench had allowed the government to file the impleadment application.

SG Mehta had told the top court that a high-level three-member committee was formed where the farmers were invited to speak as people should not suffer, but they refused to join saying they are not a party in the case before the top court.

On the earlier hearing, the top court took from the grim view of continued blockade of highways in Delhi-NCR due to farmers protests against the three agriculture laws and said that this can not be a perpetual problem.

The Bench had said that redressal of the issue can be through the judicial forum, agitation or parliamentary debates and asked how can highways be blocked.

The Bench was hearing a plea of a woman resident of Noida seeking direction to ensure that the road between Noida to Delhi is kept clear so that the passage is not affected.
Earlier, the Haryana government had told the apex court through an affidavit that sincere efforts are being made to remove the blockades from interstate roads and national highways and to resume the free flow of traffic.

The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier also filed an affidavit and said that it’s making all efforts to make farmers understand that their act of blocking roads is causing grave inconvenience to travellers.

The top court had made it clear that it is not concerned about the larger issues of on-farm laws which can be decided judicially, politically or administratively but limited to clearing of roads blocked by farmers. It had said that the protestors have a right to protest at a designated space but can’t block the outflow and inflow of traffic.

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