The Kerala High Court has decided to initiate suo motu action against Youth Congress State president Dean Kuriakose, United Democratic Front Kasaragod district convener M.C. Kamarudeen and Kasaragod District Congress Committee secretary A. Govindan Nair for the hartal call given on Monday.
The leaders had made the call protesting against the murder of two Youth Congress activists in Kasaragod on Sunday.
A Division Bench of the court consisting of Chief Justice Hrikesh Roy and Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar noted that the “call for hartal was made without giving seven days’ public notice,” which amounted to “contumacious act on their part.” The Bench called for the personal appearance of the leaders before the court on February 22.
Referring to the cancellation of examinations and the decision of a section of public transport operators not to operate their vehicles anticipating violence and damage to their property, the Bench noted that any
“persons who act/refuse to act out of deference to a call for illegal hartal, in effect, abets the illegal act and therefore cannot cite the call for hartal as a justification for action/inaction.”
The “inaction of the transport operators in not operating their vehicles or the educational authorities not holding the examinations on the scheduled dates, apart from being viewed as contumacious act, will also expose them to adverse consequences under the respective statutes by which their actions are regulated,” the court noted in another order.
Directive to police
The court directed the police to put in place adequate measures to prevent any damage/destruction to public and private property of government and citizens who do not support the call for hartal. The police should monitor any such activity of the hartal supporters and report it to the court, it noted. The police should keep in mind the provisions of various Acts, including the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Ordinance, 2019, and the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Kerala Police Act while registering cases against those who flouted the laws, it noted.
The Bench asked the police to provide adequate protection to public utility services that faced violence.
When flash hartals were called and when it was apparent that such hartals were in violation of the court orders, the general public should be informed about such facts, the court requested the media.