Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 20th July -2021

Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. Examine the statement in the light of the recent Shaheen Bagh judgement.

Though people have the right to protest it shouldn’t affect the public places or it shouldnt cause any inconvenience to the people around them as those people who are not part of that demonstration have the right to life.

Right to Protest

  • The right to protest is the manifestation of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association, and the right to freedom of speech.
  • The Constitution of India provides the right of freedom, given in Article 19 with the view of guaranteeing individual rights that were considered vital by the framers of the constitution.
  • The Right to protest peacefully is enshrined in Article 19(1) (a) guarantees the freedom of speech and expression; Article 19(1) (b) assures citizens the right to assemble peaceably and without arms.

Article 19(2) imposes reasonable restrictions on the right to assemble peaceably and without arms.

The Supreme Court has found the indefinite “occupation” of a public road by the Shaheen Bagh protestors unacceptable.

  • The court said the protest, considered an iconic dissent mounted by mothers, children and senior citizens of Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, became inconvenient to commuters.
  • The judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against the law but made it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely.
  • The present case was not even one of the protests taking place in an undesignated area but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. Fundamental rights do not live in isolation. The right of the protester has to be balanced with the right of the commuter. They have to co-exist in mutual respect. The court held it was entirely the responsibility of the administration to prevent encroachments in public spaces.

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