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Dean Kuriakose told to foot Youth Congress hartal bill

Youth Congress state president Dean Kuriakose will have to cough up the cost of the damage suffered by the public on account of the state-wide hartal called on Monday by the organisation protesting against the murder of two Youth Congress activists in Kasargod.

The High Court on Friday directed the authorities concerned to collect the amount equivalent to the total losses incurred by various sections of society from Mr Kuriakose.

Strongly criticising the culture of hartal, the court observed that the same punishment would be applicable to former DGP T.P. Senkumar, K.P. Sasikala and other leaders of Sabarimala Karma Samiti for the losses suffered in the state due to the hartal called by the Samiti on January 3 on the Sabarimala issue.

Taking into account the fact that the United Democratic Front called the hartal in Kasargod district on Monday, the court said that the losses in the district should be collected from UDF district chairman M.C. Kamarruddin and convener Govindan Nair. In addition to the recovery of losses, cases should be registered against Mr. Kuriakose and the office-bearers of UDF in Kasargod for calling the hartal. The court came down heavily on hartal in the wake of political parties giving scant regard to the repeated directives of the court on the matter.

The court said a special commission will be appointed to ascertain the total losses in the hartal and the same amount should be collected from the leaders.

The report submitted by the state government stated that the KSRTC had alone suffered a loss of Rs 1.35 lakh on account of the Youth Congress hartal. The government said that other losses were still being estimated. It also stated that the losses should be recovered from those who called the hartal.

Considering the intense difficulties faced by the people due to the frequent hartals in the state, the court has issued guidelines for calling hartals. A minimum of seven-day notice should be given before calling a hartal. In the case of Kasargod incident, the state-wide hartal was called by the Youth Congress leader on February 18 through a Facebook post on the night of February 17.  The High Court has initiated the action against Mr. Kuriakose and others following a petition filed in the court citing the violation of the court order.

Mr. Kuriakose has sought extension of time for filing a reply to the contempt of court petition against him and the court has posted the case for further hearing on March 6. It slapped the hartal cost on him while hearing other petitions connected with the hartal.

The court criticised Mr. Kuriakose and observed that as a person who has studied LLB, he should be aware of law. The counsel for Mr. Kuriakose said his client has only completed LLB and was not practising as a lawyer.

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