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Supreme Court dismissed a review petition filed by twelve activists against its 2020 ruling in connection to the Shaheen Bagh Protests while observing that the right to protest and express dissent comes with certain duties and cannot be held anytime and everywhere.

In last year’s verdict, the top court had termed the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests at Shaheen Bagh illegal.

“We have considered the earlier judicial pronouncements and recorded our opinion that the Constitutional scheme comes with a right to protest and express dissent but with an obligation to have certain duties. The right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere. There may be some spontaneous protests but in case of prolonged dissent or protest, there cannot be continued occupation of public place affecting rights of others,” said the court while rejecting review petition on February 9.

A three-judge bench comprising Justice SK Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose, and Justice Krishna Murari reiterated that public places cannot be occupied for protests and public protests must be in designated places.

“We have perused the Review Petition and record of the Civil Appeal and are convinced that the order of which review has been sought, does not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration. While appreciating the existence of the right to peaceful protest against a legislation, we have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely,” the bench said.

The women activists from the Shaheen Bagh protests had moved the top court to list their review petition along with pleas related to farmers protests.


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