The Supreme Court today decided to examine alleged non-implementation and non-compliance of its guidelines on the issue of strikes and ‘dharnas’ by political parties and others which have in many cases resulted in destruction of public and private property.
A bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and J.S Khehar issued notices to the Centre and all state governments and sought their responses on the allegation that the apex court guidelines issued in this regard in 2007 and 2009 have not been implemented.
The bench, while granting them eight weeks time, also directed them to file status reports explaining as to the steps they have taken to implement the guidelines issued by the court and to prevent destruction of public and private property during demonstrations and ‘hartals’.
The court passed the direction on a PIL filed by advocate Koshy Jacob who gave instances of such ‘bandhs’ or ‘hartals’ declared by political parties in Kerala.
“We will examine this, but the fact remains that you have only highlighted the instances from Kerala,” the bench said, asking Jacob’s counsel and senior advocate M.N Krishnamani to give information regarding such ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’ from other states in the next hearing.
The counsel told the court that they had sought the information under Right to Information Act from other states but they were not given the material.
The PIL submitted that there were wilful and deliberate omissions on the parts of the authorities to comply with the April 16, 2009 guidelines passed by the apex court in a matter relating to destruction of public and private properties.
The PIL alleged that if a ‘bandh’ or ‘hartal’ was declared by a political party in power, the state government remained mute spectators in disregarding the judgements and guidelines of the apex court, which results in destruction of private and public property in large cases.
The petition referred to the recommendations of two committees appointed by the apex court on the issue and to which the court had given green signal for immediate implementation.
Justice (retd) K.T Thomas committee had made recommendations relating to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The Fali S Nariman committee had also made recommendations that have to be followed in the absence of legislation in this regard.
The petitioner submitted that three years have passed but neither the state governments nor the Centre have taken any action to put in place legislation or any fast-track mechanism has been created which is consistent with the guidelines.
“The states are not taking any positive steps to follow or implement the guidelines issued by this court which ultimately results in violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Article 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution,” the PIL said.
The petition also said that these guidelines are to be followed by government authorities to prevent destruction of public and private properties during demonstrations, ‘bandhs’, ’hartals’ called by political parties and other organisations.