Peaceful CAA opposers not ‘traitors, anti-nationals’: HC

AURANGABAD: People wanting to agitate in a peaceful way “cannot be called traitors, anti-nationals only because they want to oppose one law”, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has said in an order on Thursday on a petition challenging denial of police permission to an agitation against the CAA.
“The submissions made show that there will be no question of disobedience of provisions of CAA by such agitation. Thus, this court is expected to consider the right of such persons to start agitation in a peaceful way. This court wants to express that such persons cannot be called as traitors, anti-nationals only because they want to oppose one law. It will be an act of protest only against the government for the reason of CAA,” the bench said.
The bench quashed and set aside two orders passed by the additional district magistrate (ADM) of Beed district and the Majalgaon city police in Beed. The police had cited the ADM’s order as the basis for refusal of permission.
“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 this date. We are fortunate that most of the people of this country still believe in non-violence,” the bench said.
In the present matter also the petitioners and companions want to agitate peacefully to show their protest,” 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,” the bench added.
It further said, “In such matters, the court needs to consider whether fundamental rights of citizens are breached by the order under challenge.”
The ADM’s order had cited the Beed superintendent of police’s report apprehending deterioration in the law-and-order situation on account of agitations for various reasons, such as damage to crops due to excess rain, price rise of essential commodities, social protection demanded by various communities, and the protest against CAA. Petitioner Iftekhar Zakee Shaikh had challenged police’s refusal of permission for peaceful protests against CAA and NRC at the old Idgah Maidan at Majalgaon for an indefinite period between 6pm and 10pm.
“It can be said that though the (ADM’s) order on face appears to be against everybody, in reality the order is against persons who want to agitate, to protest against CAA. At present such agitations are going on everywhere and there was no whisper of agitations of other nature in this region. Thus, it can be said that there was no fairness and the order was not made honestly,” the bench said.

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