New Delhi: The Supreme Court said Monday it would examine if organisations or individuals who have moved the Constitutional court challenging the validity of a legislation are permitted to hold protest on the same issue when the matter is sub-judice. While hearing a plea filed by a farmers’ body which is protesting against the three new farm laws and is seeking directions to authorities to allow it to stage ‘satyagrah’ at Jantar Mantar here, the Supreme Court asked what are they protesting for when it has already stayed these legislations.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar also asked the organisation, which has already challenged the validity of the three laws before the Rajasthan High Court, why they want to hold protest when they are ‘not in force at all’.
“You want to go for protest. Protest on what? There is no Act in place at the moment. It is stayed by this court. The government has assured that they will not give effect to it, then protest for what,” the Supreme Court bench observed.
The bench asked Attorney General KK Venugopal that once a party has approached the court challenging the validity of the Act, then where is the question of going for protest. “They can’t ride two horses at the same time,” said Venugopal and also referred to the ‘unfortunate’ incident at Lakhimpur Kheri.
The bench said when such incidents happen, nobody takes the responsibility. When the top law officer contended that the protest should stop, the bench said nobody takes the responsibility when there is damage to property and physical damage is caused.
Venugopal said the government has made it clear that it is not going to withdraw these three farm laws and therefore, the option for the petitioner is to take forward their challenge to these legislations.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said once the matter is before the highest Constitutional court, nobody can be on the streets on the same issue.
Advocate Ajay Choudhary, appearing for petitioner ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ and its president, told the bench that they have filed an affidavit in the court and stated that petitioner is neither a part of protestors who have been stopped by police at any national highway nor involved in any activity causing blockage on roads.
“After hearing counsel for the concerned parties and the Attorney General for India, we deem it appropriate to examine the principal issue as to whether the right to protest is an absolute right and more so, the writ petitioner, having already invoked the legal remedy before the Constitutional court by filing writ petition, should be permitted or can assert that he can still resort to protest with regard to the same subject matter which is already sub-judice,” the Supreme Court bench said.
It said the plea, which was filed by the petitioner challenging the validity of these laws and is pending before the Rajasthan High Court, be transferred to the apex court so that it can be heard together along with this matter.