New Delhi: With farmer unions insisting on holding a tractor rally on Republic Day, the Supreme Court on Monday told the Centre that the top court cannot be the first authority to deal with it, instead the onus falls on Delhi Police on whether to allow farmers' entry into Delhi or not.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran said "we have not taken charge of the matter except one issue...apparently our intervention has been grossly misunderstood. We are not going to tell you about your powers."
The bench stressed that the Delhi Police have the authority to take a decision over the issue, and not the Supreme Court.
The observation from the top court came after Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said the Centre is seeking restraint orders against the farmers from entering Delhi as the court has taken charge of the matter. The Centre through Delhi Police has moved the top court seeking direction to restrain farmer unions from conducting the tractor rally as a method to disrupt the Republic Day celebrations.
The Chief Justice told the Centre's counsel that the police have all the powers necessary to maintain law and order. Advocate A.P. Singh, counsel for Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lokshakti), submitted that the farmers were willing to hold peaceful protests at Ram Lila Maidan. "If the authorities prohibit, then the matter is supposed to come before the court," observed the bench.
The Chief Justice said it is not for the court to decide how many farmers should be allowed in the city and the nature of conditions to be imposed on them. "Who should be allowed and who should not, and number of people will be dealt by the police. We cannot be the first authority to deal with it," said the Chief Justice. The bench insisted that Delhi Police are the only authority to decide on it and not the court.
The A-G emphasised before the top court to issue directions to restrain farmers from disrupting the Republic Day parade, to which the Chief Justice replied "Does the Union of India want the Supreme Court to tell that you have powers under the Delhi Police Act."
The A-G said that thousands of farmers are camping at various Delhi borders. The Chief Justice replied the court has not taken charge of the matter, and its intervention has been misunderstood. "We are not going to tell you about your powers," the Chief Justice told the Centre's counsel.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the top court to hear the matter on Wednesday. The court was also informed that farmer unions have been served in the matter. When the Chief Justice inquired about any counsel representing the unions before the court, senior advocate Dushyant Dave replied he is representing the unions. The top court will conduct further hearing on the matter on Wednesday.
The Centre, through the Delhi Police, have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, seeking an order of injunction restraining anyone from conducting any protest march either in the form of tractor/trolley/vehicle march or any other mode in the national capital on Republic Day.
The Centre said it has come to the knowledge of security agencies, through various sources, that the small group of protesting individuals/organisations have planned to carry out a tractor/trolley/vehicle march on Republic Day on January 26.
"Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against law and order, public order, and public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation," it said.