The three mediators appointed by the Supreme Court will visit Shaheen Bagh after studying the judicial order that mandates them to hold talks with the protestors at the site and persuade them to call it off, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, one of the interlocutors, said on Tuesday.
“The three of us are yet to meet and work out a strategy on how we intend to proceed with the task entrusted by the court. We would like to read the order, which we received late in the night on Tuesday, and then move further,” Hegde said.
Acknowledging that people have a fundamental right to protest, the Supreme Court on Monday disapproved of the blockade of the public road by protestors at Shaheen Bagh and named Hegde, advocate Sadhna Ramachandran and former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah as interlocutors to convince the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act activists to end the agitation.
A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph said: “Democracy is about expression of views but there are lines and boundaries.” The court will hear the matter next on February 24. The court also asked the authorities to provide an alternative site to the protestors.
“Right to protests has been recognised world over in democracies, especially in India. It is a fundamental right subject only to public order and security of state,” justice Joseph said.
The order came on two petitions: one filed by advocate Amit Sahni and the other by Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nand Kishore Garg. Both highlighted the difficulties faced by commuters on account of the protestors occupying a road in Shaheen Bagh since December 15, 2019.
The continued sit-in, mainly by women, has gained nationwide attention. The protesters have pitched a tent on a main road linking Noida to south-east Delhi via the Kalindi Kunj bridge. Officials say the blockade has affected the movement of around 175,000 vehicles on a daily basis. Efforts to negotiate with the protestors have failed.
Ramachandran is an experienced mediator and a pioneer in the field of mediation in Delhi when it was introduced in 2006 by the Delhi high court. She served as an organizing secretary of the high court’s mediation and conciliation centre. She is also involved in training several lawyers in mediation in different high courts.
Hegde began his career in 1989. Most recently, he appeared in the Aarey forest case in Mumbai. He was designated a senior advocate by Supreme Court in 2015.