THE Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on February 13, 2020, while granting a permission to a few people to sit on an indefinite protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Beed district, said persons holding peaceful protests against a particular law cannot be termed as traitors or anti-nationals only because they want to oppose one law. It will be act of protest and only against the Government for the reason of CAA.
“In such cases, it is the duty of the Government to approach such persons, have talked with them and try to convince them”, the High Court noted.
A division bench of Justices TV Nalavade and MG Sewlikar was hearing a petition filed by one Iftekhar Shaikh challenging a January 31, 2020 order passed by Additional District Magistrate (ADM) and a January 21, 2020 order of the Police Inspector, City Police Station, Majalgaon, District Beed refusing them permission to sit on an indefinite protest at Old Idgah Maidan in Majalgaon in Beed district against the CAA.
The court noted, “When we are considering the proceeding like present one, we must keep in mind that we are a democratic republic country and our constitution has given us rule of law and not rule of majority. When such act is made, some people may be of a particular religion like Muslims may feel that it is against their interest and such act needs to be opposed. It is a matter of their perception and belief and the Court cannot go into the merits of that perception or belief”.
It adds, “the Courts are bound to see whether these persons have right to agitate, oppose the law. If the Court finds that it is part of their fundamental right, it is not open to the Court to ascertain whether the exercise of such right will create law and order problem. That is the problem of a political government..”.
“India got freedom due to agitations which were non- violent and this path of non-violence is followed by the people of this country till date. We are fortunate that most people of this country still believe in non-violence,” the bench said.
“In the British period, our ancestors fought for freedom and also for human rights, and due to the philosophy behind the agitations, we created our Constitution. It can be said that it is unfortunate but the people are required to agitate against their own government now but only on that ground the agitation cannot be suppressed,” it added.
Referring to ‘Khilafat Movement’, the court observed, “In the British period there was ‘Khilafat Movement’ to support the authority of Sultan of Ottoman to act as Khalif of Islam. That agitation was against the Britishers who were affecting the authority of Khalif but freedom fighters had taken up that cause. Thus when no interest of Indian Muslims was affected due to the act of British against that Sultan the agitation was started by our ancestors. This agitation was led by Mahatma Gandhi and it was for the purpose of expressing solidarity and support to the cause of Muslims of that country. Thus the agitation can be for the cause of foreigners also”.
Resultantly, the High Court quashed the orders of the ADM & Police Inspector, who had prevented protests against the CAA.