Kerala hartal: Onus on government to protect its citizens
THE Kerala High Court held it was the state government’s duty to ensure people are warned of prompt legal action in case they create any lawand-order problem or disturbance during hartal.
The High Court on Thursday, said it had held hartal and bandh are illegal. The state should also assure citizens of its full protection as against the illegal hartal called by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala. The Division Bench also issued a notice to him by speed post.
The bench issued the order on the plea filed by Mallappally panchayat ward member Sojan Paviyanose. According to him, calling a hartal by Chennithala, who is the Opposition Leader, is an offence under 166 (Public servant disobeying the law, with intent to cause injury to any person) of IPC.
He said Chennithala was holding a Cabinet rank and having staff, facilities, salary and allowances of a minister. The petition said despite the specific directives by the Supreme Court and High Court, political parties were frequently calling hartal and general strike causing serious difficulties to citizens. The High Court had earlier held whenever a hartal or a general strike was called, the government should take adequate measures to see citizens’ normal life was not paralysed. That is to be done not by declaring holidays or postponing exams, but by giving effective protection to those who are not participating in such hartals or strikes.
The government pleader submitted in view of the Kerala HC judgment there was no distinction between bandh and hartal, the government had issued instructions to all police officials with regard to the steps required to be taken to ensure public order is maintained.
“In our view, even if there is no intimidation, people generally avoid taking risk fearing damage to their life and property. It would be the duty of the state to dispel this fear,” the court held.