Bandh/ hartal (general strike): India
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Compensation to persons hurt during bandh
The Kerala high court has upheld a single bench ruling that the state government is liable to pay compensation for hartal-related injury for failing to protect its citizens. The ruling by a division bench of the high court came after considering an appeal filed by the state government against the single bench’s judgment of November 11, 2016.
A vehicle driver had lost his eye due to stone pelting by an agitating mob during a hartal called by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) on July 4, 2005 to protest the industrial and labour policies of the central and state governments.
The Kerala high court directed that the state government must pay the compensation and then it must recover the amount from the political party as amount due to the state.
TN HC: Pay Rs 10L to man who lost eye during bandh
The Times of India, August 4, 2016
Pay Rs 10L to man hurt during bandh: HC to TN
Asserting that it was the Tamil Nadu government's duty to maintain law and order and protect its citizens during hartals or bandhs, the Madras high court has directed it to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation with interest to a bank employee, who lost an eye in a stone-pelting incident on the eve of a DMK bandh to protest party chief M Karunanidhi's arrest in 2001. Justice M Satyanarayanan passed the order while disposing of a petition by S Krishnaswamy, seeking a compensation of Rs 25 lakh from the state for the loss of vision and suffering caused to him by the injury inflicted on him on July 1, 2001. The petitioner stated that he underwent a surgery after the eye injuries during stone-pelting, but continued to suffer severe pain and could not continue his job as a computer operator.
Protest a constitutional right: SC
The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL that alleged that political organisations were resorting to hartals to hoodwink repeated judicial pronouncements banning strike and bandh calls, which paralysed normal life.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said, “Hartals can never be unconstitutional.Right to protest is a valuable constitutional right. How can we say hartals are unconstitutional.“ Having failed to convince the bench to entertain the PIL, the petitioner decided to withdraw the plea.
Courts have ruled on strike, bandh and hartal calls given by political outfits for two decades now. The Kerala high court in Bharat Kumar case in 1997 had said, “When properly understood, the calling of a bandh entails the restriction of free movement of the citizen and his right to carry on his avocation and if the legislature does not make any law either prohibi ting it or curtailing it or regulating it, we think that it is the duty of the court to step in to protect the rights of the citizen so as to ensure that the freedom.“
An SC bench headed by then Chief Justice J S Verma had upheld this order.
However, over the years, the courts have not clarified the difference between strike, bandh and hartal.
Sit-ins/ dharnas in others' homes/ offices
Delhi HC questions the practice
The Delhi high court disapproved of the sit-in by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at Raj Niwas and asked the AAP government to explain how strikes or dharnas can take place “inside someone’s office or house”.
“How do you call it a dharna? Or a strike. Who authorised it?” a bench of Justices A K Chawla and Navin Chawla asked even as it made the IAS association a party to the petitions it is hearing on the latest face-off between the CM and lieutenant governor Anil Baijal.
“You are sitting inside the LG’s office. If it’s a strike, it has to be outside the office. You cannot hold a strike inside someone’s office or residence,” the court re-iterated while listing the matter for June 22.
Last week, two lawyers Umesh Gupta and Hari Nath Ram moved court seeking its intervention. While Gupta has sought a direction to the LG to ensure that the alleged “informal strike” by the IAS officers of Delhi is called off, Ram’s petition wants a declaration from the court to the effect that the sit-in by Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, health minister Satyendar Jain and labour minister Gopal Rai is unconstitutional.
Opposition leader Vijender Gupta, along with rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, also moved the high court on Monday against Kejriwal’s protest.
When HC asked the government counsel in what capacity Kejriwal and others went to Raj Niwas, senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog said they had taken the decision in their individual capacity and were empowered to do so under the Constitution. The counsel urged the court to instruct the IAS officers to attend routine departmental meetings held by the ministers. He said an association representing the bureaucrats had admitted at a press conference on Sunday that they were not attending routine meetings.
But additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi and standing counsel Naushad Ahmed, appearing on behalf of the LG and the chief secretary, said no IAS officer was on strike and urged the bench to direct Kejriwal and the others to vacate Raj Niwas.
The sit-in is on since June 11 urging the LG to end the IAS officers’ “strike” and take action against those refusing to attend meetings convened by the ministers or take their calls.