Chandra Shekhar Aazad Calls for Nationwide Shutdown Against SC Order on Reservations

The Bhim Army chief also sought to intervene in the top court's hearing on Shaheen Bagh, saying the inconvenience caused to public is actually due to the 'collusion' of authorities.

New Delhi: Leader of the Bhim Army Chandra Shekhar Aazad has called for Bharat bandh (nation-wide shutdown) on February 23 against a recent Supreme court order on reservations. The top court had ruled that states are not bound to provide reservations in appointments and that claiming reservations quotas in promotions is not a fundamental right.

At a press conference in Delhi’s press club, Aazad criticised the court’s ruling. “I respect the court. We all do, as we should. But, the court makes mistakes like in this case,” he said.

“The court is saying we can’t claim reservation in promotion if a government is not granting them. They are leaving us to the largesse of the government. We are not going to accept it. These are our fundamental rights and we know how to take them,” Azad added.

The court had said last week that state governments are not duty bound to make reservations. “There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions. No mandamus can be issued by the Court directing the State Government to provide reservations,” a bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said.

On Wednesday, Azad announced that there will be a protest march from mandi house to the parliament on February 16 and a nation-wide strike on February 23. He has also urged other social justice groups and organisations to join in the strike.

He also urged member of parliaments to pressurise the government to bring in an ordinance to nullify the court’s ruling. “Ambedkar’s constitution is very clear that there should be reservations in government and private education, employment and promotion. You should support our demand if you believe in Ambedkar’s constitution, but don’t support if you believe in the Manusmriti. In that case, we will be out on the streets and will take our rights,” he said.

Aazad also filed a review plea in the Supreme Court where he has sought a reversal of its order. The plea has stated that the judgment is in violation of Article 16 (1) (there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state) and Article 14 (4) (nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens) of the Constitution.

Supreme Court of India. Photo: PTI

‘Shaheen Bagh inconvenience not due to protest’

The Bhim Army chief also said that the “inconvenience” caused by commuters in the Shaheen Bagh area is actually due to the “unnecessary road blockades” imposed by authorities and not the sit-in demonstration being staged by protesters against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

He filed an application seeking to intervene in the Supreme Court, which is hearing a plea to clear the protest site. On Monday, the top court said that protesters cannot block roads indefinitely or cause inconvenience to people.

“The allegation of road blockade by the protests is just an excuse…The administration has deliberately blocked various other roads connecting Delhi to Noida and Faridabad on the pretext of Shaheen Bagh demonstrations (which have been completely peaceful), to deliberately create a situation where public is inconvenienced”, stated the application, according to LiveLaw.

Along with Aazad, former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Shaheen Bagh resident Bahadur Abbas Naqvi have also joined the application, which was filed through advocate Mansoor Ali.

The applicants said they want to bring to the attention of the court the “collusive acts” of Delhi administration, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Uttar Pradesh government in blocking alternate roads that are far away from Shaheen Bagh. This, they claim, was done deliberately to cause traffic jams for commuters commuting between Delhi, Noida and Faridabad. This was reported by Scroll in a story earlier this week.

Elderly women protest at Shaheen Bagh on Saturday. Photo: PTI

The intervention says that alternate routes such as the Kalindi Kunj-Mithapur road and another route from Khadar Kalindi Kunj marg have been blocked by the Delhi police. This has left commuters with no option but to use the Delhi-Noida direct flyover, they say.

Describing the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protests, which has seen large participation from Muslim women, as peaceful, the applicants add that it enjoys the support of nearly “85% of citizens comprising Muslims, SC, ST, OBC and other citizens who do not subscribe to Manuvadi ideology”.