The entry of protesting farmers into Delhi on Republic Day has to be decided by the Delhi Police as it is a matter of “law and order”, the Supreme Court said today while hearing the Centre’s application seeking an order against the proposed tractor rally scheduled on January 26.
The bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that Delhi Police has all the authority to deal with the matter.
“Does the Supreme Court say as to what are the powers of police and how they will exercise them? We are not going to tell you what to do,” said the bench, also comprising Justices LN Rao and Vineet Saran.
The top court told Attorney General K K Venugopal that it will take up the matter for further hearing on January 20.
The centre, in an application filed through the Delhi Police, had told the court that any proposed rally or protest which seeks to disrupt and disturb the Republic Day celebrations will cause an “embarrassment to the nation”.
The centre said the right to protest can never include “maligning the nation globally”. It urged the court to restrain anyone from conducting any protest march either in the form of tractor march, trolley march, vehicle march or any other mode by entering into the National Capital Region Territory of Delhi.
Farmer leaders, however, have clarified that the rally — in which 1,000 tractors will participate — will be peaceful and won’t interrupt the day’s big parade at Rajpath.
“We will not interrupt the parade on Republic Day,” a farmer leader told the media at Delhi’s Singhu border. The 50-km parade, they said, will be held in the Outer Ring Road, the road encircling the city.
“We hope the Delhi and Haryana Police will cooperate in this. This parade will be peaceful,” the leader said.
The farmers planned the tractor rally as repeated talks with the government failed to resolve the deadlock over the laws, which they say will shrink their income and place them at the mercy of big corporates.
The government has refused to repeal the laws, which have been flagged as its big ticket reforms in the farm sector.
Last week, the Supreme Court put the laws on hold and formed a committee to discuss the issue with all sides and give a report within two months. The farmers, however, have rejected the panel, saying all the members are pro-government.