The Kerala High Court today (29 September) told the Popular Front of India (PFI) to pay up for the damage it had caused to public property last week during the protests and hartals it held across the state.
In suo moto proceedings against the leaders of the PFI, the Kerala High Court has asked the now banned organisation to deposit Rs 5.2 crore within two weeks for destroying public and private property.
As reported by LiveLaw, a division bench of Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias C P condemned the flash hartal and said no such protests should take place in the state irrespective of political views.
“Life of citizens cannot be put in peril. The message is loud and clear. If anybody does it, this will be the consequence. You can have your organisation, you can have your demonstration against any cause; the Constitution permits it, but no flash hartals,” observed the bench.
The court had initiated suo moto proceedings against the ‘illegal’ flash hartal and directed the state to take "strict action against the violators of the court order".
In January 2019, the Kerala High Court had banned flash hartals. The court had ordered that a hartal can be declared only after a seven-day notice, and held that any citizen can challenge the declaration of such hartals within that period.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had moved the High Court on Tuesday seeking directions to the PFI to compensate the loss caused to it due to damage to its buses and reduction in services during the hartal.
The PFI had called a state-wide hartal on 23 September in protest against hundreds of its leaders being arrested and its offices being raided across the country by the National Investigation Agency last week.
KSRTC contended that the hartal was called without any advance notice which was a violation of the High Court's orders that flash hartals were illegal and seven days prior notice has to be given. Lack of an advance notice had the state transport start services as usual, as the police assured that law and order would be ensured, they had said.
Since the hartal turned violent, it led to stone-pelting that left windscreens and seats of 58 buses damaged, 10 employees and one passenger injured, said KSRTC.
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