The Supreme Court said that the farmers can protest but cannot block the roads indefinitely. A bench of Justices S K Kaul and C T Ravikumar asked the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers union, whether they have a right to block the road.
SKM responded, saying the police could better do the road management. If the police can’t manage, allow the farmers to protest at Ram Lila ground or Jantar Mantar in the national capital.
During the proceeding, SG Tushar Mehta cited Republic Day violence and said the incident took place despite the farmer’s unions giving an undertaking that there would be no violence during the tractor rally on January 26.
The Supreme Court has asked SKM and other farmer unions to file their response to the petition seeking removal of protesting farmers from roads in four weeks.
The apex court will now hear the matter on December 7 on farmers’ protest.
Earlier this month, the apex court had questioned the rationale behind farmers continuing their protests. It examined including blocking of national highways when none of the three contentious agricultural laws is in force as all have been kept in abeyance for 18 months in January by the court after an assurance from the government to that effect. Another bench of the Apex court headed by Justice Sanjay Kaul had cited its ruling. It barred protesters from blocking public roads and said farmers’ grievances could be addressed either by Parliament or the judiciary. But they cannot be seen to cause harassment to commuters through sit-in dharnas on highways hindering traffic to and from Delhi to neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Thousands of farmers are at the Delhi border points, with over 30 unions threatening to intensify their agitation across the country if the government does not recall the three farm bills. However, their impact appears to be limited in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh mainly. The agitating farmers have received political support from all Opposition parties and the states ruled by them.