On October 4, Monday, the Supreme Court examined the petition filed by the Kisan Mahapanchayat, seeking permission for holding a Satyagraha at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. They have decided to examine their right to protest and also referred to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident where eight people including four farmers were allegedly killed last night.
During the hearing before Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar, advocate Ajay Choudhary, appearing for the protesting farmers, said that he has submitted an affidavit stating that they have not been blocking any part of the road. The farmers’ body has further said that it is not part of the group of protesters who have stopped or restrained police or security personnel in any region.
During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court bench had reportedly pulled up the farmers group for their request for permission to hold a Satyagraha. Justice Khanwilkar had orally remarked, “You have strangulated the entire city, now you want to come inside the city! The residents around, are they happy with the protest? This business should stop. You are obstructing security”, as per a LiveLaw report.
Today, after submitting the affidavit in court, the bench seemed uncomfortable with the idea of continued protests, since the farm laws have already been challenged in court. Justice Khanwilkar said, “Once you challenge the executive action, then the matter is sub judice. Then how can you protest? Protest against whom?”
Choudhary informed the court that they have already challenged the validity of the three farm laws before the Rajasthan high court where the matter is still under consideration. To this, Justice Khanwilkar said, “This is still intriguing, the act has been stayed. Government has assured that the act will not come into effect. Why the protest then?”
Advocate Choudhary tried to reason out with the court but the court said that either the farmers should protest or have faith in the judiciary. “What is the need to protest at Jantar Mantar? You (farmers) cannot challenge a law and then go protest. Either come to court or go to parliament or go to Road,” said the bench.
The Advocate General of India, KK Venugopal argued that the protests should not be allowed to continue until the validity of the acts is under consideration. He said, “There should be no protests. An unfortunate incident happened yesterday at Lakhimpur”. The court reacted, “Nobody takes responsibility when such things happen.”
Without elaborating much on this incident, the court decided to transfer the records of the petition before the Rajasthan High Court to itself by the next date of hearing. “Considering the fact that the present petitioner already filed a petition before Rajasthan High Court, the petition be heard along with the present writ petition. We direct the Registry to immediately summon records of stated writ petition and register it as transferred writ to be heard on next date”, ordered the bench.
The supreme court will examine the issue of whether the right to protest is an absolute right. The matter has been posted for hearing on October 21.
The deceased farmers who were allegedly run over by Ashish Mishra’s car have been identified as Lovepreet Singh, Nachattar Singh, Daljeet Singh, and Gurwinder Singh. The farmers were protesting the three farm Laws at a dharna near Tikunia on October 3, which is Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s paternal village in Lakhimpur Kheri. According to media reports, the protest was ahead of an event where Uttar Pradesh Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya was to be the chief guest.
Farmers had planned to “show flags to the deputy chief minister” and had also reportedly “staged a demonstration in front of ‘Monu’ a.k.a Ashish Mishra’s car when he was going to receive Keshav Prasad Maurya.” This is when the Union minister’s son allegedly “ran his car over the protesting farmers” according to farmers’ groups.