SC to hear pleas for removing protesters from Shaheen Bagh after Delhi polls

'We understand there is a problem and we have to see how to resolve it,' SC said

People gather at the protest site in New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh area | AP People gather at the protest site in New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh area | AP

The Supreme Court Friday said it would hear the pleas seeking removal of anti-CAA protestors from Shaheen Bagh on February 10, after the Delhi Assembly elections as it did not want to "influence" the polls.

"We understand there is a problem and we have to see how to resolve it. We will take it up on Monday. We will be in a better position by then," said a bench comprising justices S.K. Kaul and K M Joseph.

When an advocate representing one of the petitioners said that voting for Delhi Assembly polls is scheduled on February 8, the bench noted, "That is exactly why we are saying come on Monday. Why should we influence it?".

While asking the petitioners to wait till the matter is heard, the bench observed it would be appropriate if the matter is dealt with by the Delhi High Court.

"We think it would be appropriate if the high court deals with the matter. The high court is the appropriate forum and we can issue directions to this effect," the bench said.

Advocate Amit Sahni, who has filed an appeal in the apex court against the January 14 order of the high court directing the police to deal with the situation keeping in mind law and order, said that due to the protests since December 15 last year traffic flow on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch has been badly affected.

When the bench said it would hear the matter on February 10, advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, appearing for petitioner and former Delhi MLA Nand Kishore Garg, said that voting for Delhi Assembly elections would be held on Saturday.

Garg has filed a plea in the top court seeking directions to the authorities to remove the protestors from Shaheen Bagh.

Earlier, Sahni had approached the high court seeking directions to the Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch which has been blocked since December 15 last year due to protest at Shaheen Bagh.

Restrictions have been imposed on the stretch as also the Okhla underpass due to protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). 

The plea sought laying down of comprehensive and exhaustive guidelines relating to outright restrictions for holding protests or agitations leading to obstruction of public place.

It said the law enforcement machinery was being "held hostage to the whims and fancies of the protesters" who have blocked vehicular and pedestrian movement from the road connecting Delhi to Noida.

State has the duty to protect fundamental rights of citizen who were continuously being harassed by the blockage of arterial road, the plea has said.

"It is disappointing that the state machinery is muted and a silent spectator to hooliganism and vandalism of the protesters who are threatening the existential efficacy of the democracy and the rule of law and had already taken the law and order situation in their own hand," the plea said.

It said the Shaheen Bagh protest is "undoubtedly within the constitutional parameter" but it has lost its legality as constitutional protection were being "blatantly and brazenly flouted and violated".

"Hence, it is urgently required that the public places must not be allowed to be abused and misused for ulterior and mala fide purposes such as staging protest against the constitution amendment in the heart of the capital city and thereby causing incalculable hardships and difficulties to the common people," it said.

In his appeal, Sahni has sought supervision of the situation in Shaheen Bagh, where several women are sitting on protest, by a retired Supreme Court judge or a sitting judge of the Delhi High Court. 

Sahni has said in his plea that protests in Shaheen Bagh has inspired similar demonstrations in other cities and to allow it to continue would set a wrong precedent.