The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing on petitions to remove the anti-citizenship law protesters from Delhi's Shaheen Bagh to March 23, saying it's "time for all parties to lower temperatures". The top court made the remarks as parts of northeast Delhi witnessed unprecedented violence, with 23 killed and at least 200 injured in clashes.
"We have seen the report of the interlocutors. We don't want to discuss it here. We want to defer it. The environment is not conducive...let the police and the system work," Justice Sanjay Kaul said.
The two-judge bench of the top court also disposed a petition by a Shaheen Bagh resident, Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, seeking court-monitored probe into the violence sweeping parts of northeast Delhi, saying that the Delhi High Court is already hearing the matter.
Senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran, who were named as mediators by the Supreme Court earlier this month, were tasked with persuading the Shaheen Bagh protesters to continue their agitation in another location, so the road can reopen and commuters do not face problems. The interlocutors had submitted their report to the court in a sealed cover on Monday.
During today's hearing on the Shaheen Bagh matter, the Supreme Court made some strong observations on Delhi Police over the clashes in northeast Delhi. "There was lack of professionalism on part of police," Justice KM Joseph said. "If the law was strictly implemented, these things would not have happened," he said.
"Police doesn't have to wait for orders if someone makes inflammatory statements but act in accordance with law," the Supreme Court said.
Justice Joseph also gave the example of police in the US and the UK, and said the force has to act professionally as per law if something goes wrong. He added that the remarks are made not in adversarial context but to ensure that law and order is maintained.
The Shaheen Bagh protests have made headlines worldwide and inspired protests across the country. Hundreds of men, women and children have been protesting on the road for over a month against the CAA, which makes religion a test of citizenship and which critics say discriminates against Muslim.
One of the petitions in the Supreme Court stated that demonstrators are illegally protesting against the citizenship law by blocking the common and public road connecting Delhi to Noida.