New Delhi: The Bombay High Court on Saturday observed that people who are protesting peacefuly against one legislation cannot be called ‘traitors’ or ‘anti-nationals’. The observation was made by the division bench of Justices MG Sewlikar and TV Nalaawade while hearing a plea by Maharashtra resident Iftekhar Shaikh, who had sought permission for the conduct of an indefinite protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 in the Beed district. Notably, a district magistrate and the police had refused permission to Shaikh, to hold protest 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 act of protest and only against the Government for the reason of CAA”, a division bench of Justices TV Nalavade and MG Sewlikar asserted.

Furthermore, the court added that if the persons agitating believe that it is against the ‘equality’ provided under Article 14, they have the right to express their feelings as provided under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

Referring to India’s freedom struggle, the court also highlighted that the country has a long history of peaceful agitations.  “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. In the present matter also the petitioners and companions want to agitate peacefully to show their protest,” the court said in the order”, said the bench.

The court also noted that it is the duty of the government to approach such persons, have talks with them and try to convince them.