Kerala

Govt under fire over hartals

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High Court lashes out at govt for not curbing ‘camouflaged bandhs’

Terming recurring hartals ‘a phenomenon to be watched and worried about’, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has observed that the State government’s failure to rein in those who held public to ransom in the name of hartals amounted to culpable omission of its sovereign responsibility to protect its citizens.

Pointing out that hartal was ‘a camouflaged bandh banned long back’, the Division Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Antony Dominic on Tuesday said that once a hartal was called, “everyone — the banker, the baker, the butcher, the barber, the student, the shopkeeper — suffers; the economy suffers, the system suffers, the State’s image suffers. Not a man moves, not a vehicle runs, not even a mouse stirs.”

If anybody defied the dictates of the agitators, usually political parties, and came out, or opened the office or shop, “violence and wanton destruction are the never-failing nemeses.” The Bench made the observations while dismissing an appeal filed by the State government against a single bench directive that a compensation of ₹7 lakh be paid to a driver who had lost sight in his right eye in a stone-pelting incident during a general strike on July 5, 2005. “It goes without saying that the State ought to, as a matter of primary responsibility, protect the lives of the citizens,” the Bench said.

LDF strike

The single judge’s directive came on a writ petition filed by Chandra Bose of Kochi. According to him, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) trade unions had called a general strike from the midnight of July 4 till the midnight of July 5, 2005.

While he was driving a mini lorry from Kannur to Kozhikode, the supporters of the strike had pelted stones on his vehicle. His right eye was injured in the incident. Later he lost his eyesight.

The petitioner had sought compensation on the ground that the injury had disabled him from undertaking any employment. The single judge had directed the State government to recover 75% of the compensation from the State general secretary, CITU, and the LDF convener, who had been cited as the other respondents.

While dismissing the State government’s appeal, the Division Bench said it could recover the amount from the political party or alliance concerned after paying the compensation.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 6:48:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/govt-under-fire-over-hartals/article22451131.ece

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