New Delhi, Apr 24 (ILNS) A PIL has filed in the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the Centre for immediate removal of the group of farmers protesting against the farm laws, in view of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.
The plea, filed by Dr Nand Kishore Garg, also sought direction to the Centre to restrain the agitating farmers from making permanent constructions over the public roads across the borders of NCT of Delhi and declare the participation of public representatives in the said agitation as illegal, because the same contravened the provision of Schedule-III of the Constitution, as the said agitation was against the constitutionally enacted law by the Legislators.
The plea further sought direction to the Centre for laying down comprehensive and exhaustive guidelines relating to outright restrictions for holding the protests/agitations, leading to obstruction of public places in future and/or directing the respondents to ensure immediate removal of the protesters from place of protests across the borders of the country capital city-NCT of Delhi, who are illegally protesting against the farm law by blocking the common and public roads connecting the various states.
The plea raised the following questions before the Supreme Court:-
(a) Whether the continuous protest over Farm Law was justified in as much as the Supreme Court was pleased to grant stay on the operation of the said Farm Law till further order. If the protest is found to be unjustified and contrary to the rule of law, under what circumstances law enforcement authorities are allowing the said unjustified protest to continue, creating obstruction and inconvenience to the common people since several months?
(b) Whether the moral and logistical supports provided by the two state governments ( Government of NCT of Delhi and the State of Punjab) through their Chief Ministers, including other elected representatives, are constitutionally permissible in as much as they had been administered oath of office under sub clause-3 of the Article 164 read with third schedule of the Constitution?
(c) Whether the said protest is constitutionally and legally justified when the fundamental rights of thousands of citizen are being trampled over by group of protesters/agitators and as such the common people are being deprived from exercising their fundamental rights under part-III of the Constitution, on account of failure of the state machinery ?
(d) Whether the state has the duty to protect the fundamental rights of thousands of the citizen, who are continuously being harassed by the blockage of the arterial road connecting NCT of Delhi to other states, resulting in deprivation and privation of various rights, including the right to livelihood ?
(e) Whether there should be the guidelines relating to protest over the public roads and other publicly important places, so that the frequent and regular protest should not pose obstruction to the enjoyment of the fundamental rights of common citizens?
(f) Whether the holders of the constitutional posts can be permitted to participate in the protests being organised on public roads or publicly important places, if not, should they be made liable and accountable to the rule of law for violating the constitutional obligations, once they are administered oath of office under schedule-III of the Constitution?
(g) Whether the acts of such protesters on public roads and other publicly important places are not violative of the provision under Part-III of the Constitution, where the fundamental rights of crores of people are lying obstructed, as the right to protest, which springs from Article 19(1)(a), is not absolute and unchecked, but subject to reasonable restrictions caused due to the said unjustified protest?
(h) Whether the judgements and orders of this Court would be the piece of paper without their mandatory enforcement in such crisis situation? As this Court has observed that there cannot be any liberty which is absolute in nature and uncontrolled in operation so as to confer any rights wholly free from any restraint. Had there been no restraint, the rights and freedoms may become synonymous with anarchy and disorder as was held in State of West Bengal vs Subodh Gopal Bose [AIR 1954 SC 92].
The Grounds taken in the plea are as follows :-
- The continuous protest led by several Kisan Unions is completely illegal and unjustified as Supreme Court was pleased to grant stay on the operation of the said Farm Law. As such, there is no cause of action for staging the said protest under the garb of agitation against new Farm Laws. Thus, the said protest is liable to be vacated immediately on this ground alone.
- The agitating framers are violating the orders and judgements of the Supreme Court, where the Court was pleased to hold that Public Places must not be occupied by the protesters, causing inconvenience to the common people. As such, this protest is illegal and liable to be removed immediately, in the interest of public at large.
- The protestors are violating the fundamental rights of crores of people in the locality, moreover, it is against the Constitution, as the Constitution spells out the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a), subject to reasonable restriction under Article 19 (2). However, these rights are not free from any restrictions and not absolute in their terms and application. Articles 19 (2) and 19 (3), respectively, control the freedoms available to a citizen. Article 19 (2) empowers the state to impose reasonable restrictions on exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression in the interest of the factors stated in the said clause. Similarly, Article 19 (3) enables the state to make any law imposing reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred, again in the interest of the factors stated therein.
- The protests are causing tremendous hardships to the common commuters from the other states to the NCT of Delhi. The innocent commuters are forced to take long journeys due to blockage of boarders road, on account of the said protest. The sick people, including COVID-19 patients, are not able to reach the super-specialty hospitals as most of such hospitals are situated in Delhi only and common people are facing an extremely difficult situation. ILNS/KR/RJ