With farmer unions insisting on holding a tractor rally on Republic Day, the Supreme Court yesterday told the Centre that the top court cannot be the first authority to deal with the matter and instead the onus falls on the Delhi Police to decide on the issue.
A bench headed by chief justice S A Bobde and comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran said “we have not taken charge of the matter except for one issue...apparently our intervention has been grossly misunderstood. We are not going to tell you about your powers.”
The bench stressed that the Delhi Police have the authority to take a decision on the issue, and not the Supreme Court.
The observation from the top court came after attorney general K K Venugopal said the Centre was seeking restraint orders against the farmers from entering Delhi as “the court had taken charge of the matter”.
The Centre through the Delhi Police had moved the top court seeking direction to restrain the farmer unions from conducting the tractor rally as a method to disrupt the Republic Day celebrations.
The chief justice said the police have all the powers necessary to maintain law and order.
Advocate A P Singh, counsel for the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lokshakti), submitted that the farmers were willing to hold peaceful protests at Ram Lila Maidan. “If the authorities prohibit, then the matter is supposed to come before the court,” the court observed .
The chief justice said it was not for the court to decide on how many farmers should be allowed into the city and the nature of conditions to be imposed on them. “Who should be allowed and who should not, and the numbers will be dealt by the police. We cannot be the first authority to deal with it,” the chief justice said.
Venugopal insisted the top court to issue directions to restrain farmers from disrupting the Republic Day parade, to which the chief justice replied “Does the Union of India want the Supreme Court to tell that you have powers under the Delhi Police Act.”
When the attorney general pointed out that thousands of farmers were camping at various Delhi borders, the chief justice replied that the court had not taken charge of the matter, and its intervention has been misunderstood.
The top court will conduct further hearing on the matter tomorrow.
The Centre, through the Delhi Police, have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, seeking an order of injunction restraining anyone from conducting any protest march either in the form of tractor/trolley/vehicle march or any other mode in the national capital on Republic Day.
The government said it had come to the knowledge of the security agencies, through various sources, that small groups of protesting individuals/organisations have planned to carry out a tractor/trolley/vehicle march on Republic Day on January 26.
“Any disruption or obstruction to the said functions would not only be against law and order, public order, and public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation,” it said.
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