Kochi: Contempt case against hartal callers

The hartal was called to protest against the brutal killing of two Youth Congress workers in Kasargod on Sunday.

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday initiated suo motu contempt of court case against Youth Congress state president Dean Kuriakose, UDF Kasargod district chairman M.C. Kamarudeen and district UDF convener A. Govindan Nair for calling the lightning hartal on Monday in violation of the court orders. The hartal was called to protest against the brutal killing of two Youth Congress workers in Kasargod on Sunday.

The Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice also ordered them to be personally present before the court on February 22 to give an explanation. The High Court had ordered on January 7 that calling lightning hartals was illegal and that people calling hartals should give seven days’ prior notice.

Additional AG Ranjith Thamban who appeared for the state government presented a copy of the Facebook post of Dean which called the hartal. He said that the ICSE students’ computer exam had to be put off due to the hartal, following which the court said that such situations cannot be allowed. The court also asked the counsel for the Election Commission whether there was provision to cancel the registration of recognised organisations and members and disqualify them if they called illegal hartals.

The court also ordered the police to monitor the activities of those who call illegal hartals and report incidents and damage occurring during the protest. The Division Bench said that to provide compensation to victims, this was necessary. It also asked the police to take steps to prevent activities that can cause damage to the life and property of citizens. The police should provide adequate protection to essential and public services.

The court order said, “any person who acts/refuses to act out of deference to a call for an illegal hartal, in effect abets the illegal act and, therefore, cannot cite the call for hartal as a justification for their action/inaction. Accordingly, we make it clear that the inaction on the part of the transport operators in not operating their vehicles or the educational authorities in not holding examinations on the scheduled dates, apart from being viewed as a contumacious act, will also expose them to adverse consequences under the respective statutes by which their actions are regulated.” The case was posted to February 22 for considering police reports. The court also asked the media to inform the public when they give news about such lightning hartals that they have been banned by the court.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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