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Kerala to bring ordinance against damage of private property during hartals

Our Bureau | Updated on January 07, 2019 Published on January 07, 2019

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 7

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the government will promulgate an ordinance to curb the ‘despicable’ wanton destruction of private property during hartals, demonstrations, road blockades or communal violence.

To be styled ‘The Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Ordinance 2019’, it would enforce recovery of damages from those issuing the call for hartal and perpetrators of violence/destruction of property.

Announcing this, the Chief Minister said that the State government would ensure strong and exemplary punishment to those indulging in violence and destruction of property under the cover of hartal.

HIGH COURT ORDER

The announcement came on a day when the High Court of Kerala passed an order banning ‘flash’ hartals. These can be declared only after giving prior notice of seven days. Within this time limit, any citizen can challenge the call thereof, the Court said.

It also directed the State government to explore the option of regulating hartals by passing appropriate legislation. This observation was significant in the context of the two-day countrywide strike announced by trade unions from Monday night.

The State government should take adequate steps to ensure that the shutdown does not not affect normal life. Damage to public and private properties will be realised from the party or association which called for it.

The Court said this in response to a public interest litigation filed by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry against hartals. It said that the State had witnessed 97 hartals during the last year alone.

HARTAL IN NEW YEAR

These had brought about a severe impact on not just businesses but also livelihood of workers, leading to huge loss of revenue. Normal life was paralysed, with even public offices and educational institutions compelled to down shutters.

All prominent political parties of the State - the CPI(M), the Congress, the CPI, the BJP, the IUML and Kerala Congress(M) - were made respondents in the petition.

The petition also sought for police protection for shops and commercial establishments during hartals. The Court seemed to sympathise with the latter’s cause and expressed strong disapproval over the practice of calling for hartals on flimsy grounds.

It was only during the last month that the merchants’ collective declared that they will not cooperate with hartals from 2019 but they had not bargained for the violent January 3 hartal by Sabarimala Karma Samithy that had caused widespread damage.

Published on January 07, 2019
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