SC worries for health of elderly, children, women in protest, urges them to go back home

Senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, representing farmer unions, said the farmers want to protest at Ramlila Maidan. “Why can’t they be allowed to go there?” he said.
Women Protester

New Delhi, Jan 11 : Chief Justice S.A. Bobde on Monday told the farmer unions counsel to convey his message to women, children and old people involved in protests against the three farm laws at various Delhi borders, to return home.

The bench headed by Chief Justice and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said the court is worried for the health of protestors sitting in severe cold and also amid the COVID-19 pandemic situation. “Let me take a risk and say Chief Justice of India wants them (protesting farmers) to go back to their homes. Try to persuade them,” the Chief Justice told the farmer unions counsel.

The bench noted that people are committing suicide and they are also suffering in the cold weather and the pandemic. The top court queried, why are old people in the protest? “We don’t want to comment on the merit of the agitation”, said the top court citing it already held the protest is valid.

The bench noted that it apprehends something may go wrong at the protest site, which would breach the peace. The top court emphasised that the most serious concern before it is the loss of life and public property. “At some time, we might say in the order that old people and women need not be there in the protests”, the top court told the farmer unions counsel.

The bench observed that farmers can carry out the protest but the question is whether protests should be held at the same site. Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing a party, said there need to be some guidelines for protestors.

Senior advocate H.S. Phoolka, representing farmer unions, said the farmers want to protest at Ramlila Maidan. “Why can’t they be allowed to go there?” he said.

The bench asked the farm unions counsel who shall be held responsible for any bloodshed on the streets. The farmer unions counsel told the apex court that they will consultations with the unions. Phoolka said he is from a village in Punjab, and 40 trolleys have come at protest site, which includes old people, who have refused to go back.

The top court will on Tuesday pronounce the order on petitions challenging farm laws and also petitions seeking removal of protesters from the borders.

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