`Right to organise bandh inalienable'

NEW DELHI, JULY 24 . The Left parties today expressed their strong disagreement with the Bombay High Court verdict ordering the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena to pay compensation for a bandh they had called and urged the Centre to pass necessary legislation to protect the rights of the people.

In a statement, the CPI (M) Polit Bureau said that the right to dissent and to organise voluntary protest actions are the "inalienable rights" of the people in a democratic polity which are enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The right to organise strikes, bandhs or hartals were enjoyed by the people even during the British rule.

"If such rights are curbed or stifled either by courts or by executive intervention, it will only encourage the forces that stand for autocratic rule or violence. In case of violation of existing laws, action can be taken against the perpetrators as per the provisions," the statement said.

The Communist Party of India said it too disagreed with the judgment ordering two political parties to pay Rs. 20 lakhs each as compensation for the bandh.

The party's central secretariat said that political parties and mass organisations have the right to organise protests in different forms and bandh is a form a protest since the days of the freedom struggle.

"Right to dissent and voluntary protests have been guaranteed by the Constitution. But in recent times the judiciary is curbing the right to strike and banning the protests in the form of bandh. The Mumbai judgment will have serious implications on democracy and polity of the country," it said.

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