The State government is gearing up to set up fast-track courts to deal with public property destruction cases.
Official sources told The Hindu here that considering the spurt in attacks on public property, mainly Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses, department vehicles and offices in the course of agitations and the heavy loss incurred to the public exchequer, the government had initiated steps to set up exclusive courts to deal with such cases.
The proposal for forming the courts has been mooted by Labour Minister Shibu Baby John, and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is understood to have sought the Law Department's opinion in this regard. The Law Department is working on the finer details.
A recent assessment of the Labour Department is understood to have found that agitations that disrupt normal life and cause extensive damage to public property are proving to be counter-productive to the government's efforts to present the State as an investor-friendly destination.
Over the years, there is a remarkable decline in labour unrest that compelled the closure of private and public sector undertakings in the State. This emboldened successive governments to invite potential entrepreneurs to make substantial investments in the State. Reports of violent agitations have gone against the drive launched in other States and hence, it is proposed to expedite the trial in such cases.
The laws framed to prevent damage to public property are adequate to check such instances.
The laws have provisions to levy a fine and award rigorous imprisonment for six months that can be extended up to five years depending on the gravity of the case. But the laws have not been an effective deterrent in preventing such destruction.
Moreover, there is an inordinate delay in dispensing such cases. Students and youth who get involved in such cases have to wait endlessly for the final verdict.
This often affects their studies and career. Most of them, hailing from financially weaker sections, are compelled to sacrifice their career prospects.
The proposed exclusive courts will complete the trial in a time-bound manner and dispense the cases within a prescribed time frame. Details, such as whether there should be district courts or regional courts for two or three districts, will be finalised by the Cabinet soon, the sources said.
Keywords: Kerala government