Farmers Have Right To Agitate, But Can't Block Roads: Supreme Court
A Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice SK Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh on Thursday observed that farmers protesting at Delhi borders against the three farms laws have the right to agitate, but they cannot block roads indefinitely. The Bench stated this while hearing of a PIL filed by Noida resident Monica Agarwal raising the issue of delay in daily commuting owing to the road blockage by the farmers.
"Farmers have the right to protest but they cannot keep roads blocked indefinitely. You may have a right to agitate in any manner but roads should not be blocked like this. People have the right to go on roads but it cannot be blocked," the Bench said.
The Court asked the farmer unions, who have been arrayed as parties in the case, to respond within three weeks on the issue and posted the matter for hearing on December 7.
Earlier, another Bench of the Apex Court had made strong observations over the blockade of the roads during ongoing farmers' agitation. It had commented that, "you have strangulated the entire city and now you want to come within the city and start protest again here."
The Bench had told this to Kisan Mahapanhayat, a farmers' body protesting against the three farm laws, seeking directions to authorities to allow it to stage Satyagrah at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The Court also took a jibe at the farmers' body that they are holding protests at a time when they have already challenged the farm laws before it.
The Bench Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice CT Ravikumar had said that, "Are you protesting against the judicial system? Have faith in the judicial system. Citizens have equal rights to move freely and without fear and their properties are being damaged in the protest."
The present Bench had during a hearing of the plea filed by the Haryana Government against road blockade asked whether the highways can be blocked perpetually. "The redressal of problems can be through judicial forum, agitation or through Parliamentary debates. But how can the highways be blocked and this is happening perpetually. Where does this end?", it had asked. The said application of the Haryana Government is also pending before the Court.
Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of three laws -- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread mainly to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
With PTI inputs