The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions seeking removal of farmers who are protesting at Delhi border against Farmers Acts.
Hearing commences. Advocate Dushyant Tiwari states Bharatiya Kisan Union has been impleaded.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve: These petitions are under Article 32.
CJI SA Bobde: you are appearing for?
Salve: UP and Haryana.
Salve: The petitioner is a resident of Delhi. Curtailment of transport of goods vehicles is affecting price of goods.
Salve: You have recognized right to protest. One right has to be balanced with Right to life. Fruits vegetables etc all comes from neighboring states and prices rocket of goods.
CJI Bobde: we are making one thing clear. We recognize fundamental right to protest and no question of balance to curtail it. But it should not cause damage to someone's life.
Salve: No right is absolute, not even right to free speech. Right to free speech does not mean shouting fire in a closed cinema theater. It extends to the right to know and not impede others private affairs.
Salve: We have to look at contouring of the right and not curtailment of right. Please look at Article 25, it says subject to public order. Contour of right to free speech has multiple dimensions.
Salve: One cannot hold a city to ransom and say either government listens to us or stop the country from living. Kerala High Court had settled this and when it came in appeal and CJI Verma was hearing it and in 15 minutes plea was thrown out. I had the misfortune for appearing for government then.
Salve: During COVID times, if you are coming in such large numbers you are hampering my right to life. You need to look at contours of right to protest. Farmers Union is in one sense a political party. People who gather large crowds needs to be made liable for such crowd.
Salve: When traffic is being stopped and goods are becoming expensive and people are not able to travel then who will be responsible for job loss. Middle class (persons) stay in Gurgaon or Noida.
CJI SA Bobde: Mr Salve you are making an argument on which no one can quarrel. We acknowledge that farmers have a right to protest. We will not interfere in it but the manner of protest is something we will look into. We will ask the Centre in what way the manner of protest can be altered.
Salve: Anyone gathering in the crowd must be responsible for it. I am a taxpayer and when you burn a car then such damage to public property is made good by government from my tax money. Such protesters need to submit a declaration saying they are taking responsibility
CJI: Are you aware of what happened to Bombay HC order of fine imposed on Shiv Sena? Salve: Yes, it was not recovered CJI: We cannot make them give deposits with government before protest
Salve: I am talking about identification because groups become amorphous. CJI: identification can be done.
Salve: These unions who identify themselves should be issued a mandamus to cooperate with the Union of India. Parties can arrive at a conclusion as to how this can be regulated CJI: Yes, police cannot use any violent means
CJI: Protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life. Protest has a goal and that purpose cannot be achieved by sitting in protest. Centre and farmers have to talk. We will facilitate it.
CJI: We are thinking of an impartial and independent committee before whom both parties can give its side of story. The committee will give a finding which should be followed. The protest meanwhile cannot endanger life or destroy property
CJI: We don't have to learn non violent protest from anyone else. Protest must be about issues in which the aggrieved party may be allowed to articulate
CJI: The committee can have P Sainath, Bhartiya Kisan Union and others.
CJI: We are thinking of an independent committee with members who will hear both sides and meanwhile protest will continue in a non-violent fashion. You cannot instigate violence too by police. You cannot block a city like this.
Attorney General KK Venugopal: They are saying repeal this law, yes or no. They have to discuss clause by clause. Committee has to discuss each clause in the three laws so that there is a meeting of minds. They can't say repeal or nothing. Complaint needs to be given to government.
CJI: We don't think they will accept your conclusion. Let the committee decide. We have observed that you have not been successful in negotiation
AG: It is because of their adamant stand SC: They may think you are adamant!
AG: This blockade of road is violative of Article 19 impacting right to movement. None of them are wearing masks and they sit in large crowds. When they go back to their villages, they will spread Covid across India.
AG: Farmers cannot violate others fundamental right. They say they have come prepared for 6 months protest. All roads coming to city cannot be blockade and this happens only during a war.
CJI: It is a fact that they sit in one area so the city is blocked. Solicitor General: Other roads are already blocked.
CJI: Has anyone said they will block all roads? Solicitor-General: Tikri border is blocked, there is threat that carriageway at Noida will be blocked
CJI: We are not on blocking and its not as if Delhi is choked. Mr Salve has pitched it higher than it actually is. Salve: If you block these arterial connections then it will scuttle the city
Advocate Rahul Mehra: There are 120 ways to Delhi. Anything is being said. Mr. Salve's petition is mischievous. Petitioner is a Delhi resident
SG: Let's not make it a personal politics issue. We have given the farmers a solution we can offer. We need someone who can break the ice. Instead of a committee adjudicating let there be people of eminence who can facilitate the dialogue. We have solutions issue wise to farmers. We have given them in writing too. It is about sitting together.
Senior Adv P Chidambaram appears for Punjab: Alarge number of farmers are from Punjab. We have no objection to the proposal for a committee. It is for farmers and Centre to agree who will be on committee.
Chidambaram: We have serious reservations on what Mr Salve argued about what can be done in a democracy. We know what happened in Vienna and Hong Kong. These are serious questions of law. Who has blocked entry. They have barbed wires, steel walls and now containers. They want to come to Delhi. They want to protest subject to law and order.
CJI: Who is here before us and guarantee that there will be no injury to property and life? Should this be not left to police? Court cannot decide and does not have wherewithal to handle mob.
CJI: Court cannot predict which mob can become violent. Only police can do so. We cannot jeopardize someone's life or property. This is what Mr Salve argued that this right to protest cannot take away someone else's right.
Chidambaram: This is not a mob, this is a large group of farmers. CJI: we are not calling them a mob in a Chicago sense!
Chidambaram: They (Police) cannot block the road and then say that farmers are blocking it. They want to enter Delhi and not block any road. We will help in whatever way Punjab can and we have a proposal. If you make so many amendments then original Act goes. Convene the Parliament and discuss
Chidambaram: They are not saying repeal but they say this law is not good. They (Parliament) can adopt, repeal and reenact.
Adv AP Singh argues for Bharatiya Kisan Union. Our country is 'Krishi pradhan' country and not a 'multi-national pradhan' country.
CJI: The grievance is blocking of roads to Delhi. [It] may lead to people going hungry in Delhi.. Singh: What about sabka saath sabka Vikas. Where will farmers go? CJI: You carry on protest and agree that it is the purpose. Purpose can be fulfilled by talking. Just sitting in protest won't help.
Singh: Why can't the Ramlila Maidan be given for them to protest? CJI: in 1989 a rally had the potential to destroy everything but nothing happened. Here we cannot determine whether the protesters can maintain peace in Ramlila Maidan or not. We have to leave it to police.
CJI: We are also Indian, we are familiar to plight of farmers and sympathetic to the cause. You have to only alter the way it is going. We will ensure you can plead your case and, thus, we are thinking of the committee.
Solicitor-General: I am not on petty politics. Mr Singh represents Bhanu group and what he says may not represent the others in the protest. It should not go as a impression that Mr. Singh represents all.
Advocate Om Prakash Parihar: Other groups did not give us an email ID. AG: If the farmer unions are boycotting, then committee will not serve a purpose. We have a list of unions who took part in discussion, we can serve those unions.
CJI: That means they cannot do before court closes. We can direct the notice to be served and hear it on Saturday.
CJI: We can pass orders only after hearing farmers. We can indicate what we propose to do. And a vacation Bench can hear it.
CJI: There is a state program in North-East. A CJI will be attending a program there after 40 years. Salve: You can have the case anytime during the day in vacation. CJI: I don't know if I will have connectivity there.
CJI: I will ensure a bench hears this. My brothers are also busy during vacation. May be vacation bench can hear.
CJI: Mr. AG, will you assure the court that you will not implement the law till we hear it then. AG: No, because then farmers will not come for discussion. CJI: Its to enable discussion.
AG: Let us get back to the vacation bench. SG: This will not be possible CJI: Don't pre-empt it. AG says he will discuss we are not staying law. But you can just say that no action will be taken as per Farm Acts.
CJI: We will pass an order saying, 'parties to be served and liberty to move Vacation bench'. Only this much we will order.
CJI: Mr. Mehra, we will postpone your (Delhi government) case as we are not passing any adverse orders. Mehra: The farmers rights are paramount.