The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up a farmers' group for seeking permission to protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi even as pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the three contentious farm laws are pending before it.
The bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar said the almost-year-long farmers' protests at the border of the National Capital Region (NCR) have "strangulated the city".
The top court's observation came on a plea filed by the Kisan Mahapanchayat who sought to stage a satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in the nation's capital.
Farmers have been protesting the three farm laws - Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act & Amendment to Essential Commodities Act, on the grounds that they are illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court on January 12 earlier this year had stayed the implementation of the farm laws until further orders while constituting a four-member committee to look into the farmers' grievances and help mediate with the government. Farmers are protesting the farm laws seeking a repeal of the same.
Farmers' Protests Have Strangulated The City: SC
Justice Khanwilkar told the Kisan Mahapanchayat that if the farmers have sought judicial recourse by appealing against the farm laws, then they must have faith in the system as opposed to continuing the protest. "What is the point of the satyagraha?" Justice Khanwilkar asked.
"Once you have approached courts challenging the laws, what is the point of continuing the protests. If you have faith in courts, pursue that for urgent hearing instead of protesting," he said.
The court then pulled up the farmers' organization for inconveniencing the citizens with their prolonged protests. "You have strangulated the city, and now you want to come into the city?" the bench remarked. "This coaxing should stop. You have blocked highways and roads," the bench which also comprised Justice CT Ravikumar said.
"The protestors have rights, but the citizens have rights as well. Have you asked the citizens if they are happy?" the bench asked Kisan Mahapanchayat.
The court also reprimanded the protestors for destroying property and heckling security personnel. "This was seen all over in the media," Justice Khanwilkar said. "You block roads and highways then say that the protests are peaceful," he added.
Advocate Ajay Choudhary, who was appearing for Kisan Mahapanchayat, said it was the police personnel and not the protestors who had blocked the highways. Choudhary submitted that his client—Kisan Mahapanchayat—was not part of the protests at the borders.
The top court however pointed out, "You cannot isolate yourself. There is no point in protesting if you have come to court."
The top court asked the advocate to file an affidavit stating that it was not participating in the protests at the NCR borders. The matter will now be heard on October 4.