KSRTC moves Kerala HC seeking over Rs 5cr damages from PFI

KOCHI: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Tuesday moved the High Court here seeking directions to the Popular Front of India (PFI) to compensate the loss of over Rs five crore caused to it due to damage to its buses and reduction in services during the hartal on September 23.

On September 22, PFI had called a state-wide hartal on September 23 in protest against hundreds of leaders being arrested and its offices being raided across the country by NIA last week.

During the hartal, its activists had allegedly engaged in widespread violence resulting in damage to buses, public property and even attacks on the general public.

In its plea, moved through advocate Deepu Thankan, KSRTC contended that the hartal was called without any advance notice which was a violation of the high court's orders that flash hartals were illegal and seven days prior notice has to be given.

Due to lack of an advance notice and the police assuring that law and order would be ensured, the corporation said it started its services as usual, the petition said.

Moreover, it cannot stop its operations abruptly as daily life of a large number of persons is dependent upon it, it said and added that 2,439 buses, 62 per cent of its strength, were operated and 9,770 employees reported for duty.

The hartal, unfortunately, turned violent resulting in smashing of windscreens and damage to seats of 58 buses, injuries to 10 employees and one passenger, it said.

Already facing a severe financial crisis, the repair cost of its buses, the loss due to their inoperability during repairs and the reduction in service on September 23 due to the hartal has caused it an overall pecuniary loss of Rs 5,06,21,382, KSRTC claimed in its plea.

It will now, therefore, be at the mercy of the state government again for financial assistance, it added.

"It is submitted that the massive loss incurred by the KSRTC is liable to be recovered from the perpetrators as the same was a result of their highly illegal and terrorizing act against the hapless general public," it said and sought directions to PFI to compensate the loss of over Rs 5 crore suffered by the corporation.

"The KSRTC is entitled to get its loss from those who called for the hartal and they cannot wash their hands from the responsibility of payment of damages to KSRTC," it said in its plea.

The high court on September 23 itself had initiated on its own a contempt of court case against PFI.

Multi-agency teams, spearheaded by NIA, had last week carried out raids at 93 locations in 15 state across the country and arrested over 100 PFI leaders for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.

Kerala, where the PFI has some strong pockets, had accounted for the maximum number of 22 arrests.

The arrests were made by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and police forces of the states concerned.

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