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Right to Protest

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The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Amit Sahani v Commissioner of Police and Others (Civil Appeal No 3282 of 2020, dated 7 October 2020) on the Shaheen Bagh protest, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Krishna Murari, held that “public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely.” While acknowledging the right to dissent, the Court stated that “demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.”

The Supreme Court held that

India, as we know it today, traces its foundation back to when the seeds of protest during our freedom struggle were sown deep, to eventually flower into a democracy. What must be kept in mind, however, is that the erstwhile mode and manner of dissent against colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a democracy. Our Constitutional scheme comes with the right to protest and express dissent, but with an obligation towards certain duties.

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