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Introduction: The ongoing farmers’ protests in India have sparked a crucial debate on the methods of peaceful dissent. Despite the significance of their demands, the obstruction of roads, rails, and sea routes has raised concerns about the consequences on public life and the nation’s reputation. This article delves into the repercussions of such protest tactics, the role of the Supreme Court, and the urgent need for responsible activism.

We need to be absolutely clear in our mind that there can be just no gainsaying that no matter how sacred the cause may be, there can under no circumstances be any justification for any citizen of India to indulge in the blocking of roads or blocking of rails or blocking of the sea routes under any circumstances as it definitely causes maximum inconveniences to others and so also tarnishes our global reputation to a very large extent thus denigrating our nation image and deals a huge blow to our economy as also trade and other vital matters get blocked completely! It also merits just no reiteration that to exercise one’s own fundamental right to protest peacefully does not give anyone the unfettered license to block roads, cause maximum damage to the roads and make temporary houses on roads as we saw last time when the farmers protested for several months in border areas of Delhi over a range of demands which clearly demonstrates that there is more to it than meets the eye. Why Supreme Court allowed such a huge protest by blocking of roads to Delhi which is the capital of India is truly most incomprehensible?

It must be asked: Which true national will ever support such a most atrocious haphazard manner of protest risking the life of many vulnerables due to which many old people and children die due to blockade and not getting medical aid in time and many have to face untold hardships by going through barbed fences in which women, old, weak and disabled people are worst affected? How can this be ever justified by anyone in the name of fighting to secure one right or the other? How can the lives and safety of so many other people be allowed to be held to ransom under  the garb of “right to protest”?

How can it be conveniently ignored that some unscrupulous elements take advantage of it and indulge in acts of crime under the garb of the right to protest? How can it be just glossed over that last time more than 700 protesters died due to one reason or the other when large scale protests broke out during farmers protest in border areas of Delhi and adjoining regions? How can the life of innocents be allowed to be jeopardized and compromised under the garb of the right to protests?

CJI Must Take Suo Motu Cognizance As Urged By SC Bar Association

Let us be very clear: To exercise one’s own fundamental right to protest peacefully does not give anyone the unfettered right to block road, rail or any other public route under any circumstances thereby causing maximum inconveniences to others for an inordinately long period of time. If Chief Justice of India will not take suo motu cognizance of such serious matter then who else will? This alone explains why the Supreme Court Bar Association of India has appealed to the CJI to take suo motu action and not allow things to go first  from bad to worse and then from worse to worst!

It would be of paramount importance to note that none other than a very eminent and senior lawyer of Supreme Court and so also the Supreme Court Bar Association President – Dr Adish C Aggarwala has written a very hard-hitting letter to the Chief Justice of India – Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud to take suo motu action against the “erring farmers” for forcibly trying to enter Delhi in a bid to create nuisance and disturb the daily life of citizens. It must be noted that the farmers long list of demands include – a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), adoption of the Swaminathan Commission’s suggestions on agriculture, pensions for both farmers and farm labourers, waiver of farm debts, resolution of police cases, justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, compensation for families of farmers who perished during the previous protests of farmers among others!

To be sure, we need to note that the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) – Mr Adish C Aggarwala penned a simple, short and straightforward letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) – Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud urging him most seriously to take suo motu action against the farmers who were attempting to forcibly enter Delhi causing huge disruption and maximum inconvenience to the public. It was pointed out in this letter by Mr Adish that, “I am compelled to write this letter to bring to your kind notice that despite the best efforts of the Government of India to protect the interest of the farmers, some farmers are enroute to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab and are gearing up for a large-scale protest in the national capital on February 13.”

Needless to say, the letter also mentioned about the initial farmers protests that took place in 2021-2022. It was pointed out in this letter that, “Earlier, in 2021 and 2022, three Delhi borders with the neighbouring States remained blocked for several months due to a similar protest, causing hardship to the general public. It is also a matter of record that many persons died while trying to come to Delhi for better medical treatment but could not reach Delhi hospitals in time due to road blockades.”

What’s more, we see that the letter then further added pointing out that, “In light of today’s farmers protest, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh Police have heightened security at the Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri borders, setting up nails and road barricades to deter vehicles transporting protesters from entering Delhi. Additionally, cranes and earthmovers are being employed to place large containers on the roads to obstruct their free passage into the Union Capital.”

It is worth noting that in the letter, we see that the Supreme Court Bar Association President – Mr Adish C Aggarwala expressed clearly his most serious apprehensions observing that, “It is suspected that this protest is politically motivated ahead of the forthcoming Parliament election.” He further minced just no words to say clearly that, “Even if the farmers have genuine demands, they don’t have the right to put the general public into hardship. Their right to protest should not be allowed to impede the common citizens’ right to lead their lives without any problem. This is an appropriate moment for the Honourable Supreme Court to take action on its own initiative and ensure that these farmers do not disrupt public peace or cause significant inconvenience.” How badly the people’s lives gets affected so hugely in the worst possible manner has been witnessed by all of us just  a couple of years back during the farmers protests earlier and how violence broke out and even Red Fort was not spared nor our national flag which was thrown away by one of the protesters which cannot be ever justified under any circumstances!

It is worth noting that it is further pointed out in the letter by the Supreme Court Bar Association President – Mr Adish C Aggarwala that, “By not accepting the offer of the Government of India, suggested at last night’s talks, the so-called leaders of the farmers have decided to move to Delhi only to create problems to people of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. If they are still adamant on protesting, they should protest in their native places.”

It is worth paying full rapt singular attention that the President of Supreme Court Bar Association – Mr Adish then further added that given the current situation, the lawyers – not just those practicing in the Supreme Court but also those in  the Delhi High Court, various Commissions, Tribunals and District Courts – will encounter significant hurdles in attending court proceedings. He rightly urged to the CJI that, “I request Your Lordship to issue requisite instructions to all concerned not to pass any “adverse orders due to non-appearance in any matter” listed before the above-mentioned courts till there are obstacles in free movement of the public on Delhi borders due to farmers’ agitation.” He then very rightly concluded by urging humbly that, “I further request Your Lordship to take suo motu action against the erring farmers for forcibly  trying to enter Delhi in a bid to create nuisance and disturb the daily life of citizens.”

On a departing note, it must be said unequivocally that the CJI Dr DY Chandrachud must definitely take suo motu cognizance as has been so very sagaciously urged by the Supreme Court Bar Association President – Mr Adish C Aggarwala and not allow things to turn first from good to bad and then from, bad to worse and then finally from worse to worst! It is undeniable that the right to protest is a fundamental right of every citizen of India but this definitely cannot include the right to block road routes, rails routes and so also sea routes to pressurize unduly the Central Government to buckle to their huge demands! It is definitely now high time and a strictest law needs to be enacted which would make it obligatory that under no circumstances can anyone be allowed to block roads or rail routes or any other routes like sea route which would undoubtedly cause maximum inconvenience to others and endanger the lives of many innocents which cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances! It is high time and CJI Dr DY Chandrachud must definitely now pay heed seriously to what the Supreme Court Bar Association President – Mr Adish C Aggarwala has so very rightly urged in his most enlightening letter! No denying or disputing it!

Conclusion: In conclusion, the article emphasizes the urgent need for responsible activism, separating the right to protest from causing extensive disruptions. The Supreme Court’s intervention is deemed necessary to prevent the situation from escalating, ensuring a balance between citizens’ rights and maintaining public order. The call for strict legislation to curb the blocking of essential routes during protests is reiterated, urging a proactive approach to safeguard the nation’s interests and the well-being of its citizens.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of TaxGuru.in. The content provided is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. TaxGuru.in does not endorse or support any illegal activities, including the obstruction of public routes or disruption of public order. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal counsel for specific legal issues or concerns. Additionally, TaxGuru.in does not take responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in the article. Readers are advised to verify any information independently before taking any actions based on it.

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