New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that 'public roads and places like Shaheen Bagh cannot be occupied indefinitely by the protesters', asserting that 'democracy and dissent go hand in hand'.

"We have to make it clear that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely whether in Shaheen Bagh or elsewhere. These sort of protests are not acceptable and the authorities should act and must keep such spaces free from obstruction", the Supreme Court said.

The SC's ruling came on a plea filed by the petitioner and lawyers-in-persons Amit Sahni and Shashank Deo Sudhi against the Shaheen Bagh protests seeking guidelines and other directions on the right to protest, in wake of the anti-CAA protests which had led to blocking of a road connecting Noida and Delhi in Shaheen Bagh in the national capital from last December till early this year.

A top court's bench headed by Justice SK Kaul held that public places and roads can not be occupied indefinitely by protesters, like during the anti-CAA protests at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh. The Supreme Court's bench also observed that the Delhi Police should have taken action to clear the protest site in Shaheen Bagh from the protesters.

"Democracy and dissent go hand in hand," the Supreme Court said, adding that "the authorities have to act on their own and cannot hide behind courts in the deal".

"We appreciate the right to peacefully protest and it can be held at designated places only", the SC added.

The Supreme Court had on September 21 reserved its verdict on the pleas seeking directions and guidelines on the right to protest in wake of the Shaheen Bagh's anti-CAA protest where hundreds of people, mainly women, had gathered for nearly 3 months to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), blocking the Kalindi Kunj road connecting Delhi and Noida.

The protest created a massive uproar and emerged as an epicentre for the anti-CAA protests across the nation. The protest, which was mainly carried out by Muslim women, had also received international attention. The TIME Magazine earlier last month had also named 82-year-old Bilkis dadi, the face of the Shaheen Bagh protest, as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020.

The Supreme Court had also earlier appointed three senior advocates -- Sanjay Hegde, Sadhana Ramachandran and former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah -- as interlocutors to have a dialogue with the protester and convince them to vacant the Shaheen Bagh protest site and demonstrate at an alternate location. The interlocutors had submitted their report in a sealed cover in February.

Posted By: Talib Khan