The Supreme Court on Thursday said it won’t interfere with the farmers’ protest at this stage that has been going on at several border points of Delhi for the last three weeks. The protest should be allowed to continue without impediment, it said. “We are of the view at this stage that the farmers’ protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police,” the bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said.
On December 16, when the public interest litigation was taken up by the Supreme Court bench, the bench wanted to hear the agitating farmers. However, one of the impleaded respondents-farmers’ associations appeared on Thursday.
“The preliminary issue before this court is the claim of the citizen who are the residents of NCT of Delhi/Haryana, having a population of more than two million people, that the manner in which the protest is being carried on is seriously inhibiting the supply of essential goods to the city because of restrictions on the free movement of goods vehicles,” the apex court said.
“We clarify that this Court will not interfere with the protest in question. Indeed the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order,” it said.
As long as the protest is non-violent and does not result in damage to the life and properties of other citizens and is in accordance with law, there can be no impediment in farmers exercising their rights to protest, the court observed.
On finding a way out, the top court mentioned a committee of experts in its order. But this may not be possible without hearing all the necessary parties, it observed. “Till the parties come before us, it would be advisable to obtain suggestions about the constitution of the said committee from all the parties which may be submitted on the date of next hearing,” it said.
“List these matters after the ensuing winter vacation with liberty to move the vacation Bench if necessary, after service is complete,” the order said.
During the hearing, the court asked Advocate General of India KK Venugopal whether the farm laws can be put on hold as long as the court is hearing the case.When the AG pointed out that if the laws are not implemented, then farmers will not come for further talks, the court said the move is to ensure that the farmers are open to further talks.