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“Right to protest can’t be anytime, everywhere”: SC on Shaheen Bagh hearing

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Dismissing a review petition on the last year ruling of the Supreme Court’s Shaheen Bagh CAA protest to be “illegal”, the apex court in its order on Friday reasserted that the right to protest and express dissent comes with certain duties and cannot be held “anytime and everywhere”. Though the review petition was scheduled for February 9, the order came late last night.

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Twelve activists had filed a review petition on the last year ruling of the Supreme Court terming the anti-citizenship law protests held at Shaheen Bagh to be illegal.

“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 public place affecting rights of others,” the three-judge bench of Justices SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said in their order.

The three-judge bench reiterated that public places cannot be occupied for protests and that public protests must be “in designated areas alone”.

“Dissent and democracy go hand in hand,” the top court had observed in its October 2020 verdict, stressing that “protests like these are not acceptable”.

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During the controversial Centre’s acts; CAA, NRC protest Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh had emerged as the epicentre 2019 where the protesters- mostly women and children, camped for more than three months.

The Shaheen Bagh protests had received worldwide attention and the 82-year-old Bilkis dadi had emerged as the face of the movement, getting a place among 100 “most influential people of 2020” in renowned Time Magazine.

The contentious citizenship law, which the BJP-led government alleges enables citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they escaped religious persecution and entered India before 2015, is, as per Critics, “anti-Muslim”.

Tens of thousands of protestors had swept the nation against the CAA before the novel coronavirus pandemic saturated the intensity of protest as a majority of population was forced indoors following strictest lockdowns in March last year.

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