Supreme Court tells Shaheen Bagh mothers it will not entertain ‘irrelevant’ submissions

Women protesters at the Shaheen Bagh area, during a protest against CAA, in New Delhi on January 11, 2020.

Women protesters at the Shaheen Bagh area, during a protest against CAA, in New Delhi on January 11, 2020.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

CJI in his oral remarks says the court, however, respects motherhood and social peace

The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear to mothers participating in the Shaheen Bagh protests that it respects motherhood and social peace but will not entertain “guilt-generating” or “irrelevant” submissions like their children are called “Pakistani, terrorists or ghadar [traitors] in school”.

A visibly angry Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde warned lawyers that “irrelevant” arguments and pleadings would be either cut short or struck off the records.

The CJI's oral remarks came while taking suo motu cognisance of a letter from 12-year-old national bravery award winner Zen Gunratan Sadavarte for a probe into the death of four-month-old Mohammed Jahan, who accompanied his mother to the protest site and died on January 30 morning.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the incident was “really very painful”.

But advocate Shahrukh Alam, for some of the Shaheen Bagh mothers, said the reality was that it was very difficult to “sanitise the lives of our children... Our home is not what people imagine. It may be just a plastic sheet covering. Our children are called ‘Pakistani, terrorist, ghadar’ in school”.

Ms. Alam persisted that “these children live in jhuggis. They attend melas. You have to hear the mothers’ voices... On the other hand, families are being separated by NRC [National Register of Citizens] and children are being detained”.

But the CJI intervened, saying “we do not want you or any people using this forum as a platform to further create problem. If somebody calls ‘Pakistani’ in a school, this is not the platform to bring that... We are not here to discuss NRC, CAA [ Citizenship (Amendment) Act], rude behaviour in school, calling ‘Pakistani’, climate change or the Prime Minister”.

The CJI said: “we are on the death of a particular child... We respect motherhood, we respect social peace. So don't make arguments intended to generate guilt”.

Another lawyer, also appearing for the mothers, argued that India had ratified the UN Convention for Protection of Child Rights. “Children have a right to protest. Don’t stop that”, she argued.

“A four-month-old child is going there [Shaheen Bagh] to protest? Are you saying a four-month-old can protest?” the CJI asked.

Notice to government

Issuing notice to the government, the CJI agreed to the protesting mothers of Shaheen Bagh to intervene but warned them not to make “irrelevant” submissions.

“We are not stifling arguments. Remember, this is a properly constituted proceeding of the Supreme Court of India,” the CJI pointed out.

Ms. Sadavarte has sought a direction to the Delhi Police to stop children and infants from getting “involved” in the Shaheen Bagh protest against the CAA and the NRC. She said the protesters included women, senior citizens and even new-borns.

“The new-born babies need a lot of attention and care as they cannot express their pains. They are brought to the protest place, which is violator of their child rights and natural justice”, she wrote.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 12:31:55 AM |

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