Shaheen Bagh protests: SC-appointed interlocutors submit report, court defers hearing to Feb 26

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Protestors continue their protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in New Delhi's Shaheen Bagh. (Express file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday deferred the hearing of PILs against the Shaheen Bagh protest to February 26 after the appointed interlocutors submitted the report in a sealed envelope.

Advocate Sadhna Ramachandran, who was appointed an interlocutor along with senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, placed the report before a bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.

Taking note of the report, the bench said that it would peruse it and the matter would be heard on February 26.

The bench also made it clear that the report will not be shared with the petitioners and counsels representing the Centre and Delhi Police at this stage.

The top court is hearing PILs against the protest over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the blockade of roads, saying this was causing difficulties for people in nearby areas.

On Sunday, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said any attempt to “forcibly shift” those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act from the road they are sitting on in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi, “would compromise their safety”. He added that police barricading of unconnected roads was behind the traffic chaos in the area.

In an affidavit to the apex court, Habibullah said he visited the site on February 19 and personally inspected the barricades placed by police. He said he noticed that “there are numerous… roads that have no connection with the protest that have been barricaded by the Police unnecessarily, abdicating their responsibilities and duties and wrongly laying the blame on the protest”. “It is this barricading of unconnected roads that has led to a chaotic situation.”

Habibullah contended, “Any attempt to forcibly shift them (the protesters) from the present site would compromise their safety, especially in view of the abuses and threats that are regularly being meted out and hate speeches that have taken place in different parts of the country (against) those protesting against the CAA, NPR (National Population Register) and NRC (National Register of Citizens).”

Expressing concern over the blockade, the court had deputed Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde and Advocate Sadhana Ramachandran to hold talks with them to find a solution. The court had allowed them to seek the assistance of Habibullah who, along with Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad, had sought to intervene in the matter.