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Anti-Agnipath: Kerala HC rulings on hartals/strike significant

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Anti-Agnipath: Kerala HC rulings on hartals/strike significant
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Kochi: The anti-Agnipath protests burning in the mid and northern states of India call for certain landmark rulings by the Kerala High Court banning bandh, restraining hartals, strikes etc., without prior notice to popular debate, PTI reports.

The raging protests have turned aggressive and dirty at most places where public assets such as railway properties were put to arson, destruction and pillage.

In 1997, a full bench of the Kerala HC, seeing the seriousness of unexpected agitations and ensued shutdowns, ruled banned bandhs, while another court ruled violent hartals unconstitutional in the year 2000.

Subsequently, the court issued orders on various occasions to check the violence and damages to public properties when the political parties and other outfits started calling for hartals or shut down to beat the court order banning "bandh." The court also issued various orders at different instants to keep violence and destruction checked.

In 2019, during the Sabarimala agitation, the court ruled that no strikes should be called without giving at least a week's notice.

Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar condemned the flash strikes and ruled that if the fresh order os violated, people could approach the court, and government could deal with the situation using adequate measures. It also added that organisations and individuals, who call for hartal, shall be responsible for loss and damages caused by the shutdown.

The high court had said that hartals had become a continuous process because of a lack of required enactments, and it was affecting Kerala's economy, along with India's tourism prospects. The court was hearing a petition filed by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Thrissur-based NGO 'Malayala Vedi against hartals' against bandhs in the state. The court said the right to protest must not affect the citizens' fundamental rights.

In 2021, the court had directed the state government to ensure that the court's decision rulings against hartals are implemented, and citizens' fundamental rights are held above. This was when the court considered a petition that sought the HC to declare a hartal called by LDF in the state illegal. The hartal then was meant in solidarity with farmers who protested the Centre's three farm laws. However, the court refused to declare the hartal illegal.

Protests have broken out in different states, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana, with the agitators demanding the Centre roll back the 'Agnipath' scheme unveiled by the Ministry of Defence, which is a pan-India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen and sailors into the various arms of the armed forces. Trains were set afire, public and police vehicles attacked, and personnel were injured during the protests. One protester was killed in police firing in Secunderabad in Telangana.

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TAGS:Kerala High Court Hartal Bandh Strike LDF Farm Laws Right to Protests Fundamental Rights Agnipath 
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