The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed that necessary police protection be granted to the officials and employees of the Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt, Ltd and its contractor to carry out the construction works of the Vizinjam International Seaport project.
Justice Anu Sivaraman while passing the interim order observed that the right to agitate or protest against any matters including the neglect and apathy of the State government could not confer a right on the agitators or protesters to contend that they had the right to obstruct the activities which had due permissions or trespass into the project site and cause damage to the public property.
The court said that the public protest could go on peacefully but without causing obstructions to the works and without trespassing into the project area.
Central assistance if necessary
The court also ordered that in case the police were unable to maintain law and order at the site, steps shall be taken to seek necessary assistance from the Centre government.
The court made it clear that the protesters could not be heard to contend that they had the right to violate the law and create a situation where project proponents were disabled from going ahead with the project works.
The High Court had time and again held that the right to protest could only be in a peaceful manner and protesters had no right to obstruct legally permitted activities in the guise of the protests whatever be the reasons, the court recalled.
‘No effective protection provided’
The petitioners including the Managing Director of the company said that from August 16, hundreds of people led by the Latin Archdiocese, Thiruvananthapuram had been staging protests in front of the project site blocking the entrance to the project site. As a result, the construction works had come to a standstill. In fact, on August 19, the protestors broke the barricades erected by the police and stormed the project site. The police had remained mute spectators.
The petitioners alleged that the protesters were trying to prevent/delay the commissioning of the project by obstructing the construction works. Though the petitioners had approached the police for protection, no effective protection had been provided to them. The agitation had caused heavy losses and damages to the company and its contractor.