KOCHI: Calling Monday’s flash hartal illegal, the Kerala High Court observed the inaction on the part of transport operators in not plying vehicles and educational institutions not holding examinations on the scheduled date are contumacious acts.
The court directed the state police chief to file a report giving details of the illegal activities of hartal supporters and the extent of damage caused. The details will be necessary for the court to take remedial action to recover the loss from the perpetrators of the illegality.
A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy issued the order on the petitions filed by Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry and others against the hartal. The court had on January 7 directed to ensure that a hartal call does not have the effect of affecting the fundamental rights of those who do not align with the cause.
When the case came up for hearing, the petitioners’ counsel submitted on account of the hartal call, various examinations scheduled to take place had to be cancelled resulting in untold misery to the students who had prepared for the exams. Similarly, public transport operators kept off the road, anticipating violence and damage to the property.
The court said the police should ensure adequate measures were in place to prevent any damage to public or private property of government or citizens who do not support the hartal call. The police should also keep in mind the provisions of the penal laws, including the provision of the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Ordinance, 2019 as also the provisions of section 188 of the IPC while registering cases against those flouting the law. The court asked the media to ensure whenever an illegal flash hartal is called and it is apparent the hartal called is in violation of the orders passed by the court, the public be duly informed of the fact.