“Right to protest cannot be anytime & everywhere,” says Supreme Court
Supreme Court of IndiaImage source: Flickr

“Right to protest cannot be anytime & everywhere,” says Supreme Court

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari stated that there may be some spontaneous protests but in case of prolonged dissent or protest, there cannot be continued occupation of public place affecting the rights of others.

The right to protest cannot be “anytime and everywhere”, the Supreme Court said in an order on Friday, dismissing a review petition against the Shaheen Bagh Judgment in which it held that demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose, and Krishna Murari stated that there may be some spontaneous protests but in case of prolonged dissent or protest, there cannot be continued occupation of public place affecting the rights of others.

“We have considered the earlier judicial pronouncements and recorded our opinion that the Constitutional scheme comes with a right to protest and express dissent but with an obligation to have certain duties. The right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere," the three-judge bench said.

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The apex court on October 7, 2020 held that public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely and demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.

Observing that democracy and dissent go hand in hand, the apex court had said that constitutional scheme comes with the right to protest and express dissent, but with an obligation towards certain duties.

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It stated that the occupation of public ways in the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh locality here was not acceptable.

A massive wave of protests had swept the nation in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic forced people to remain indoors. Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh was the epicenter of these protests where a large number of women and children sat on the streets for months to protest against the contentious citizenship law, according to which citizenship will be granted to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan if they escaped religious persecution and entered India before 2015.

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