15/02/2020 8:46 AM IST

Anti-Citizenship Amendment Protesters Cannot Be Called Traitors: Bombay HC

Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court also said, "we must keep in mind we are a democratic republic country and our Constitution has given us rule of law and not rule of majority."

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 10: Delhi Police personnel and demonstrators during a march to Parliament against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), near Jamia Millia Islamia, on February 10, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Even as the Narendra Modi government has aggressively cracked down on those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Bombay High Court said on that they could not be considered “traitors”. 

PTI reported the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court as saying, while hearing a petition, that the petitioner and his companions only want to hold a peaceful agitation to show their protest.

The court granted the petitioners permission to sit on an indefinite protest against the CAA in Maharashtra’s Beed district.

A division bench of Justices T V Nalavade and M G Sewlikar was hearing a petition filed by one Iftekhar Shaikh challenging a January 31, 2020 order passed by a magistrate and a January 21, 2020 order of the police refusing them permission to sit on an indefinite protest at Old Idgah Maidan in Majalgaon in Beed district against the CAA.

“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,” the court said in its order.

“We must keep in mind we are a democratic republic country and our Constitution has given us rule of law and not rule of majority. When such act (CAA) is made, some people may be of a particular religion like Muslims may feel that it is against their interest and such act needs to be opposed,” the bench said in its order.

The court also spoke of the agitations that helped the country get freedom from the British rule. 

“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 date. We are fortunate that most people of this country still believe in non-violence,” the bench said.

“In the British period, our ancestors fought for freedom and also for human rights, and due to the philosophy behind the agitations, we created our Constitution. It can be said that it is unfortunate but the people are required to agitate against their own government now but only on that ground the agitation cannot be suppressed,” it added.

This comes even as BJP-led governments in states have violently cracked down against anti-CAA protests. 

In Karnataka’s Bidar district, the police have been continuously questioning minor students of the Shaheen School for participating in a play against the CAA. Nikhila Henry, reporting for Huffpost India found that the management of Shaheen school has struggled to comprehend how a school assignment could have spiralled into a crime against the nation. 

In Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government has sent out notices to protesters to recover “damages to public property”. The Allahabad High Court, for now, now has stayed those notices. 

Uttar Pradesh is the same state where several Muslims were killed by the police during protests and did not allow the families to have proper funerals for those who had died. They also tortured minors in custody.