The Supreme Court on Monday said people cannot block public road indefinitely and create inconvenience for others but declined to pass an interim direction on pleas for removal of anti-CAA protesters from Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of demonstrations here for nearly two months.

As it observed that people are entitled to protest but it has to be done in an area identified for agitations and cannot be done on a public road or park, the court also took up the issue of an infant dying on returning home from Shaheen Bagh where his parents had taken him along.

“Can a 4-month-old child be taking part in such (Shaheen Bagh) protests?”, the court asked while warning two women lawyers for making “explosive submissions” that children participating in the protests against the Citizenship Amended Act (CAA) are being called names, ‘terrorist’, ‘gaddar’ (traitor), ‘Pakistani’, in school.

The 4-month-old baby had passed away in his sleep on the night of January 30 after returning from Shaheen Bagh.

“Don’t make explosive submissions. Please do not make such statements. We do not want people to use this platform to further create problems,” said a Bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, when two women advocates – Shahrukh Alam and Nandita Rao – started making submissions.

A Bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph issued notices to the Centre, the Delhi government and Delhi Police asking them to respond to the pleas seeking removal of protesters from Shaheen Bagh and ensuring smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch.

‘Let’s hear the other side’

When the counsel appearing for the petitioners urged the court to pass some direction since there was inconvenience to the public, the Bench said, “It cannot be done ex-parte. We will hear the other side.”

“If you have waited for over 50 days, wait for some more days.” The top court posted the matter for further hearing on February 17.

“You cannot block the public roads. There cannot be indefinite period of protest in such an area. If you want to protest, it has to be in an area identified for protest,” the Bench said.

“There is a law and people have grievance against it. The matter is pending in the court. Despite that some people are protesting. They are entitled to protest,” the court said, adding, “It should be done in an area which is designated for protests. You cannot create inconvenience for the people“.

The apex court said the protest at Shaheen Bagh has been going on for long but it cannot create inconvenience for others.

“Can you block a public road? You cannot block it. Suppose there is a public park, you cannot hold protest there,” the Bench said.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by advocate Amit Sahni, who had approached the high court seeking directions to the Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, which remains blocked by anti-CAA protesters since December 15.