“Right To Protest cannot be anytime, everywhere”: SC on anti-CAA Shaheenbagh protests

New Delhi: The right to protest and express dissent comes with certain duties and cannot be held “anytime and everywhere”, the Supreme Court said in an order, dismissing a review petition on the anti-citizenship law protests held in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh in 2019.

Twelve activists had filed a review petition on the last year ruling of the Supreme Court terming the anti-citizenship law protests held at Shaheen Bagh to be illegal.  “The right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere. There may be some spontaneous protests but in case of prolonged dissent or protest, there cannot be continued occupation of public place affecting rights of others,” the three-judge bench of Justices SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari said while dismissing the review petition. Though the review petition was decided on February 9, the order came late last night.

The three-judge bench reiterated that public places cannot be occupied for protests and that public protests must be “in designated areas alone”. “Dissent and democracy go hand in hand,” the top court had observed in its October 2020 verdict, stressing that “protests like these are not acceptable”.

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