The Supreme Court Monday said the Centre and Delhi's neighbouring states should find a solution to road blockades on the national capital's borders due to farmers' protest against the three farm laws passed last year.
At the outset of the hearing, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Mukherjee told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, “What is happening Mr Mehta. Why can't you find a solution? You have to find a solution to this problem. They have the right to protest but at the designated places. Due to the protests, inflow and outflow of traffic cannot be disrupted”.
The bench said this will have an impact on toll collection as well because vehicles will not be able to pass through due to the blockades.
Mehta informed the bench that petitioner Monica Agrawal, a Noida resident, who has sought removal of blockade, is not available due to connectivity problems as she is in some rural area.
The bench then ordered, “Solution lies in the hands of the Union of India and the concerned state governments. They have to coordinate to find a solution that when a protest takes place, roads are not blocked and traffic is not disrupted to cause inconvenience to the common people”.
Mehta said that if the court is willing to pass some orders then two farmers unions can be made parties and he can give their names.
The bench said that tomorrow another two unions will come forward and say they represent the farmers and this will go on.
The top court asked Mehta during the brief hearing, “Please workout something and posted the matter for further hearing on September 20.
On March 26, the top court had issued notice to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana on the plea.
The Uttar Pradesh government has said in its affidavit that continuous efforts are being made to remove the blockade at the Delhi-UP border and there at present about 141 tents and 31 ‘langars’ around the area, and the protestors have installed a platform on the flyover from where the leaders give speeches, a media house has also been made below the flyover.
“At present there are about 800-1000 protestors in the area, however, a crowd of up to 15,000 protestors collect on their calls within hours from adjoining towns and villages,” the affidavit said.
It said protestors had organised a tractor march on January 7 up to Palwal in Haryana and then again on January 26 they went up to the Red Fort on tractors “without permission” and indulged in large scale violence with the police authorities in Delhi for which several criminal cases have been registered against them.
“Thereafter, the Delhi police closed the road by putting barricades on the way from Delhi to Ghaziabad on NH-24/9,” the state government said, adding that after persistent efforts of the authorities, one lane from Delhi to Ghaziabad was cleared for movement on March 15.
For incoming traffic, from Ghaziabad to Delhi, diversions have been made by Ghaziabad police and Delhi Police through alternate routes like Maharajpur Border and Hindon canal road, it said.
“That pursuant to the orders dated March 26, passed by this court, the police and the state administration have approached the protestors/farmers with the orders passed by this court and have made tireless efforts to make them understand their grossly illegal act of blocking roads causing grave inconvenience to the travel,” it said.
The state government further said that large numbers of the protesters are very old and aged farmers from various districts of the state who are required to take precautions during the COVID-19 wave and that the efforts of intervention are still in progress.
Similarly, the Haryana government also told the top court that protesters staging dharna at Singhu border have been camping on about 6 kilometres stretch of lanes of NH-44 since November 27, last year.
“All lanes were initially blocked by using tractors/ trolleys and other vehicles. At present at least one lane on both sides has been opened after efforts made by the district police for movement of public vehicles", it said, adding that suitable diversions of traffic are being made to divert traffic and it has been able to maintain public order at both the sites that is at Singhu border and Tikri border.
“A large number of women including children along with the farmers are protesting and persuasive methods have been deemed more appropriate instead of use of force at both the sites,” the state government said, adding that appeals are being made to the farmers' organisations to vacate both the sites from time to time.
The farmers are protesting against passage of three laws-Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread to Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and some other parts of the country.
Agrawal has claimed in her plea that it had become a nightmare to travel to Delhi from Noida, as it takes two hours’ time instead of the usual 20 minutes. She has sought the removal of blockades so that passenger traffic is not affected.