The Punjab and Haryana High Court has finally removed the “disturbed area” tag off the city of Chandigarh, when it ceased the implementation of a notification issued in 1983 during the days of terrorism in Punjab.
The implementation of later editions and amendment of the 29-year-old order have also been stopped.
Orders to this effect were passed on Wednesday by a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising acting Chief Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, who disposed of a petition filed by the president of the city unit of the Janata Dal (United), Surinder Bhardwaj.
The petitioner had argued that the notification was a “blot” on the name of the city, and it impacted the flow of tourists, especially those from foreign countries. The court noted that the situation had improved, and there was no justification for holding on to draconian laws.
The Bench pointed out that when neighbouring Punjab, which was ravaged by terrorist violence, had withdrawn its “disturbed area” notification in 2008, there could be no argument in favour of its continuation in Chandigarh. The court also held that worse situations had prevailed in the rest of the country, but they were yet to be declared “disturbed areas.”
During the terrorism phase, the charge of the Administrator of the Union Territory was given to the Governor of Punjab. The notification to declare Chandigarh a ‘disturbed area’ was first issued by Siddhartha Shankar Ray as the city’s administrator 26 years ago, and the decision to retain its implementation was taken five years later in 1991, when General O.P. Malhotra was at the helm.
The notification provided sweeping powers to the officers, especially the police. They could prevent the assembly of five or more persons. A magistrate or a police officer in the rank of Sub-Inspector could open fire or use force, even cause death, if they were satisfied that some provision of the law had been contravened.
The Court noted the situation had improved, and there was no need to hold on to draconian laws The notification provided sweeping powers to the officers, especially the police
The Court noted the situation had improved, and there was no need to hold on to draconian laws
The notification provided sweeping powers to the officers, especially the police