Kochi | Kerala High Court today refused to declare calling of hartals as illegal and asked the state government to consider framing comprehensive legislation to restrict or prohibit the same.
A Full bench of the court also directed the state to monitor all events of strikes and hartals and call for reports from district magistrates about them.
‘The State shall monitor all events of strike and hartals and call reports from district magistrate and monitor the same,’ it said.
It should also consider framing comprehensive legislation covering all aspects of the matter with due consideration of report of state law reforms committee submitted in 2008.
The bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice A M Shaffique and Justice Jayshankar Nambiar also rejected the prayer to prohibit media from publishing call of hartals, but asked it to maintain self restraint and self regulation.
Incidentally, it was Kerala High Court which delivered the landmark judgement banning bandhs in 1997, an order upheld by Supreme Court later.
In its order today, the court asked the media to share the information and details collected by it during hartals for identifying wrong doers so that people who suffer any kind of injustice to life and property should get early justice.
The three-judge bench was disposing a batch of petitions to declare call of hartals illegal. Another plea was to award compensation to hartal victims and prohibit media from publishing hartal calls.
The bench directed the state to follow the earlier directions (on the matter) by the Supreme Court and high court and issue necessary instructions to district administration and police and government departments and comply with them.
The court also said that even though the state law reforms report was submitted in 2008, no legislation had been made in this regard.
Answering the plea to give prior notice of hartal call to district administration, the bench said the regulation and checks within political parties and organisations in calling hartals and strike was a ‘laudable’ object. It serves the interest of administration and general public.
The bench also mentioned about a PTI news item and photo on hartal, published in July 2013, which was brought on record and examined by the court.
The judges observed that details depict a ‘very pathetic and sorry state of affairs’. Some restrictions and regulations framed to prosecute the persons who indulge in the act of vandalism was needed, the court said.
The bench also wanted ‘effective steps’ to be taken for finalising the prosecution of hartals, strikes related cases.
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