“I am always ready to bear Allah’s full fury but under no circumstances will I ever block road for offering namaz. There was no space in mosque or anywhere else except on road! Offering namaz on road is a big crime for me which I will never commit under any circumstances! Not for a second will I ever do anything that disturbs others and forces them to wait for me to leave road so that they can leave for their own work!”
– Sageer Khan my best friend who in 1993-94 said this to me when I asked him why he was so upset while returning from a mosque and why can’t he offer namaz on road just like others
You don’t have to be a Kapil Sibal or Fali Nariman or Soli Sorabjee or Dushyant Dave or Harish Salve or any other senior Supreme Court lawyer or a legal luminary or former Chief Justice of India or a former Supreme Court or High Court Judge to come to the logical conclusion that no one can be allowed to block roads and rail tracks under any circumstances. No Sibal or Nariman or Sorabjee or Dave or Salve or anyone else can ever justify the blocking of road and rail tracks under any circumstances. Right to protest can be at a definite place but no one whether they are Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs or Christians can ever claim that they have the right to block roads as along as a particular law is not withdrawn. If PM cannot check blockade of road and rail tracks then he has no right to stay in office for even one second! No cause no matter how sacred it may be can ever justify blocking of roads and rail tracks under any circumstances.
It is most shocking to see that in his second term as PM Narendra Modi has senselessly, shamelessly and stupidly allowed blocking of roads and so also the Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also have also allowed for blocking of roads and rail tracks to register their protest against the new farm laws. What is even worst is that even Supreme Court too didn’t promptly order lifting of blockade of roads and rail tracks which is most unfortunate. My best friend Sageer Khan once also rightly said to me way back in 1993 that, “No cause no matter how sacred it may be can ever justify blocking of roads and rail tracks under any circumstances. My friendship will break with you if I ever come to know that you are a party to blocking of road or rail track. But I am sure that you will never ever commit such crime in your life.”
Our President Ram Nath Kovind, our Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde and our Prime Minister Narendra Modi must all feel terribly ashamed that they could not do just anything to ensure that road and rail tracks are not blocked in Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan for months and months together first in Shaheen Bagh and now after the protest against the farm laws broke out. Even now they are just watching like helpless spectators! No cause no matter how sacred it may be can ever justify blocking of road and rail tracks under any circumstances. No Constitution, no God, no religion and no law can ever justify blocking of roads and rail tracks under any circumstances as it is the surest path to anarchy!
It is no wonder that the three Judge Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Krishna Murari have yet again in Kaniz Fatima & Ors vs Commissioner of Police & Ors in Review Petition (Civil) Diary No(s). 24552/2020 have dismissed the review petition filed against the Shaheen Bagh judgment in which it is held that the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The Bench observed that, “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. 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. Accordingly, the review petition is dismissed.” Fair enough! Who can deny or dispute this?
But what baffles me most is that what suicidal and most dangerous, despicable and dastardly trend has the CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde set by not ordering the farmers who were agitating blocking all the key entry points to Delhi to vacate immediately before ordering a stay on farm law or setting up Committee to look into farm laws? Why farmers still allowed to block all entry points to Delhi and why they were not ordered to shift to specific permissible sites where protest can be legally carried on? Why such intimidatory tactics have been allowed to linger under the garb of farmers protest? Why similar zero tolerance as we see now in Shaheen Bagh was not displayed by the CJI while hearing farmers petitions who are blocking all key entries to Delhi? How can you have one set of rules for Muslim women in Shaheen Bagh who have been disallowed to protest there and another set of rules for farmers who have been given the unfettered right to block entry points in Delhi just like earlier they blocked rail tracks in Punjab for months as also in other states like Rajasthan due to which the people have faced terrible difficulties as many have even narrated in the media? Why the farm law were stayed from execution by the Apex Court when it knows fully well that law making is the job of Centre and not that of judiciary?
Bluntly put: Why was it overlooked that even one of the former Supreme Court Judge – Justice Deepak Gupta had clearly pointed out that, “I do feel that the court should have been careful to tread in as this is a dangerous territory?”
To be sure, Justice Deepak also waxed eloquent to state forthright that, “As to whether the Supreme Court could pass such an order, normally when the constitutionality of a law is challenged, the law is not normally stayed. Sometimes, there is a partial stay to the effect that though the law shall continue to operate, the final things is not carried out till the court decides the matter. Here, the court decided to intervene. I’m not saying that the court is powerless; it has wide powers. Under Article 142, it can lay down the law for the country. It can also act where larger public interest is involved. The present instance seems to be one of these cases.”
Of course, Justice Gupta also did not shy away from saying that when it is granted, the court is expected to give reasons. He minced no words to say that, “Here, the order does not give reasons except that it was issued with the intention of making the farmers and the government come to the dialogue table. A stay cannot be granted for this purpose. It can be granted only if prima facie, the law is illegal. If this precedent is followed by the various high courts, it will result in a situation where various several legislations passed by the government will be stayed without adequate reasons. The Supreme Court should have given more reasons for staying or should not have stayed the laws at all. I do feel that the Court should have been careful to tread in this matter…this is a dangerous territory.”
Can any senior Supreme Court lawyer dare like Soli Sorabjee or Sanjay Hegde or Kapil Sibal or Dushyant Dave or Harish Salve or any other ever say that Justice Deepak Gupta does not know anything on this? Certainly not. Justice Deepak Gupta who is a former Supreme Court Judge is a very balanced person who knows how to express himself in a manner that few can ever match! It is high time and now Courts must also stop treading on the territory of the executive and the laws made by the Centre! Why CJI doesn’t realize that staying the laws only emboldened the farmers further which resulted in Red Fort being desecrated and hoodlums trying to mock down police men in uniform and now blocking of roads will increase much more and now they have announced that trains will also be stopped on March 18 and what not? Lawlessness cannot be ever justified under the garb of protest and what we are seeing is nothing but lawlessness which has done no good to our nation!
Needless to say: Any PM who cannot stop carrying out of tractor rally or any other parallel rally during Republic Day in Delhi must promptly resign as this definitely lead to giving free hand to hoodlums, criminals, goons and terrorists who will not spare any opportunity to even desecrate Red Fort as we saw most recently during 26 January, 2021 which has shamed our nation in front of the whole world! More than 500 policemen were injured by armed rioters under the grab of farmers and even with folded hands when police cops requested when there was no space left for them to escape then also they kept in beating them mercilessly! Can this be justified in the name of dissent? Can vandalism and brazen destruction of telecom towers as we saw in Punjab where more than 1500 Jio-owned or operated telecom towers were damaged be justified proudly in the name of dissent? To hell with such dissent! To hell with all those whether they are senior lawyers or jurists or Judges or anyone else because this cannot be ever justified by anyone under any circumstances! This can only be justified on the ground of “Might is right” and this is exactly what is happening unabashedly in our country since last two years!
It is an open secret that there are many actors both in India and in abroad who are not coming out in open but who have made it their latest weapon to sponsor such blockade of roads and rail tracks and those foreign forces who are inimical to the very concept of India are the “real force” behind all such fundings and they must be identified at the earliest and exposed in front of the world. It is a national shame that why our government in Centre as well the Supreme Court allowed such dangerous, deplorable, despicable and dastardly blocking of roads and rail tracks which causes maximum inconvenience to the common person for months and months together and now Rakesh Tikait has warned to carry it for a year by end of 2021! All the legal luminaries, senior Supreme Court lawyers and Supreme Court Judges including CJI along with PM, President and Cabinet Ministers must all feel most ashamed that they have allowed this most despicable blocking of roads and rail tracks right under their nose!
It cannot be lightly dismissed that among all the Congress leaders, it was Captain Amarinder Singh who is Chief Minister of Punjab who was most vocal in denouncing what all happened under the garb of tractor rally on January 26, 2021. He minced no words to state unequivocally that, “My head hangs in shame at what happened yesterday in the national capital.” He also said categorically that those who were responsible for the incident were not farmers but misguided youth who were indulging in symbolism. How can this or blocking of roads be ever justified? Why rail tracks in Punjab were allowed to be blocked for months together?
What message has gone out? Why judiciary too allowed this most despicable act of blocking of road right under its very nose? Why were these protesters allowed to take the nation for a ride and injure as many as more than 500 police personnel? What message are we setting?
It is a no-brainer that this farmers movement has defamed India to the hilt. Spineless, senseless and shameless justification of violence under the garb of farmers protest and blocking of roads and rail tracks cannot be justified under any circumstances. Who is having the last laugh? It is countries like Canada, UK, US, Italy and Germany among others who openly support Khalistani movement and encourage them to rebel against India by allowing openly anti-India and pro-Khalistani activities on their soil and allowing them to vandalise even statutes of Mahatma Gandhi as we saw in USA!
Should we be proud of this? It is not just a coincidence that it is mostly celebrities from these countries who are expressing maximum concern for what is purely an internal issue of India but which Opposition parties are wanting to spare no opportunity to internationalise it. It is not just a coincidence that governments of these countries are voicing maximum concern over farm laws and this despite the irrefutable fact that USA as also UK has lent its support to the farm laws under the new US President Joe Biden and UK PM Boris Johnson as mentioned in the newspapers of February 4, 2021!
Never take your enemy for granted. This where India always err. Why are protesters becoming a convenient tool in the hands of foreign powers? Why are Mir Jafars and Jai Chands being allowed to set the agenda of blocking roads for an indefinitely long period so as to tarnish, tatter and toss the impeccable reputation of India to the hilt?
I am sorry to say but this is no way to carry out a movement! We have become a laughing stock in front of the world for which farmer leaders who have misdirected farmers cannot escape from being held accountable. Why farmer leaders allowed this sacred agitation to be hijacked by radical separatists organizations who are openly advocating a separate Khalistan for Sikhs? Why Sikhs for Justice which is one such separatist organization was allowed to take the centrestage that had gone to the extent of even giving a clarion call to the Sikhs to reach the Red Fort on 26 January and unfurl the Khalistani flag and insult the national flag? Why Centre took it most lightly and why permission was granted to tractor rally which was more a terrorist rally in which we saw violent protesters trying to crush our police cops, run over barricades and vandalise Red Fort in a manner that is completely unprecedented? Centre has a lot of explaining to do on this just like in the case of Shaheen Bagh!
Yashovardhan Azad who is a former IPS officer very rightly writes in Hindustan Times editorial titled “Lessons from the tractor rally on R Day” published on February 1, 2021 that, “Critical stakeholders, including Delhi Police, failed the Republic on January 26. It is time to ask difficult questions. Why did the Delhi Police permit a tractor rally on Republic Day? The Delhi Police Commissioner admitted, in his press conference, that intelligence inputs had led to banning over 350 Twitter handles fanning discontent from across the border and instigating people in large numbers to join the rally. It was also clear to all police officers that, despite assurances of the farm leaders, allowing tractors in such large numbers would be dangerous and controlling such a huge number of protesters would be almost impossible. Besides, every police unit, down to the last man, is deployed for security arrangements for the Republic Day parade, making it impossible to handle any other bandobast on the day. If the government gave consent, it must have braced itself for some collateral damage. The Supreme Court left the matter of permission for the rally to the Delhi Police. Why then didn’t the Centre leave the matter in the hands of the police commissioner, to take the decision solely on law-and-order considerations? Perhaps it would have served the interest of both the Centre and the Capital better. In light of wanton destruction of public property and brazen attack on policemen, the damage done to the image of the Capital and to our democratic governance far outweighs any advantage accrued by granting permission. The issue requires serious deliberation by the political executive for taking such decisions in future.”
More to the point, Yashovardhan Azad further very rightly takes a swipe at every stake holder and does not shy away from saying that, “Critical stakeholders failed our democracy on the 72nd Republic Day – the central government by permitting the rally, farm leaders by reneging on their promises; and the Opposition by not playing a constructive role. A protest is a constitutional right and hence, protest sites such as Ramlila Maidan have been ear marked. Public places cannot be occupied indefinitely, according to the Supreme Court. For 60 days, the farm agitation was peaceful, but people were suffering because of road blockades. Job losses were reported, with supply chains affected and manufacturing adversely impacted. A rough estimate of losses is around Rs 3,500 crore a day, according to Assocham. All protests must be held at designated sites and if numbers are large, then an appropriate site should be designated for the purpose. A conscious decision needs to be taken that no protest will be allowed to hamper the daily lives of Delhi citizens.”
In fact, I will go one step ahead and say that President should in such cases ask Prime Minister to immediately vacate road and rail tracks and if PM refuses to act then he should just sack him. Allowing blocking of road and rail tracks is the biggest insult of our Constitution and makes a mockery of our law, legal system and our Constitution. How can this be ever allowed under any circumstances but since last two years ever since the Shaheen Bagh episode, it is fast becoming a fashion which is tarnishing our reputation worldwide and this will also result in foreign investors feeling terrified in investing in India?
Is this is what PM or President or CJI wants? What a joke that now Supreme Court has rejected the petition of Muslim women from protesting at Shaheen Bagh like they did earlier but why have farmers similarly not been ordered to vacate all the entry points of Delhi? Why this raw discrimination between Muslim women and farmers?
No one means “no one” can ever be allowed to block road and rail tracks under any circumstances! The whole world is laughing at our democratic system that allows blocking of road and rail tracks just like we see where anarchy prevails! Shame on us, our governments and also our judiciary which has failed to vacate farmers protesters from roads even though it has disallowed only Shaheen Bagh protests now of late! Law must be equal for everyone and no one should be allowed to block road or rail tracks under any circumstances whether they are farmers or soldiers or lawyers or anyone else! How can few farmer leaders be allowed to stop road traffic, rail traffic and hold the nation to ransom and yet our Supreme Court keep watching everything like a helpless spectator even as they announce to protest till the end of the year till the laws are not finally withdrawn!
No doubt, this is no way to protest that you block road and rail tracks and become overjoyed that neither State nor Central Government acted tough and even Supreme Court refused to order prompt removal from these sites due to which people face maximum inconvenience and business worth thousands of crores of rupees is adversely affected! It is a no-brainer that there are some foreign powers and powerful terror groups who are behind all the sabotage that happened on 26 January and who don’t want that India should run smoothly on roads and rail tracks! Should PM, CJI and President allow them to have the last laugh by tolerating blockade of road and rail tracks quietly or should they display zero tolerance towards it as we have seen since independence till some time back when Shaheen Bagh episode spoiled everything?
Now Supreme Court has disallowed Muslim women also from protesting again at Shaheen Bagh then why are farmers being allowed to block all entry points to Delhi which is causing loss of Rs 3500 crore per day as estimated by ASSOCHAM? It is for Apex Court to introspect and decide on this! If not checked now this will become the most dangerous trend in India and our democratic system will be completely destroyed which we can certainly ignore only at the risk of our own peril and for which apart from Centre and concerned States it is Supreme Court whose impeccable credibility will be worst affected!
Now clearly, the ball is in the court of the Supreme Court who will have to blame its ownself if it still refuses to order eviction of farmer protesters from all entry points of Delhi because of which we are being mocked at as a “lawless country” and maximum inconvenience is being suffered especially by those people who are living in adjoining places where protests are being carried out and ask them to protest only at those sites where it is legally permissible to do so! The earlier it acts, the better it shall be in our national interests!