The Kerala High Court on Friday initiated a suo motu contempt of court case against the leaders of Popular Front of India (PFI) for calling a flash hartal, which had been banned by the court previously .
Expressing displeasure at the widespread violence across the state as part of the hartal, a division bench comprising Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice C P Muhammed Nias on Friday initiated a suo motu case against the leaders of the Popular Front of India (PFI) for calling flash hartal which was banned by the court in its order dated 7.1.2019
“The action of the aforementioned persons in calling for the hartal without following the procedure contemplated in our earlier order, prima facie, amounts to contempt of the directions of this Court in the order aforementioned,” the Court said.
The Court had previously, in an order dated 7.1. 2019, had issued directions to ensure that a call for hartal or general strike does not have the effect of affecting the fundamental rights of those who do not align with the cause of those calling for the hartal and had mandated 7-days prior notice for declaring hartal.
The High Court also directed the state police to ensure there is no damage to property of persons or establishments which do not support the hartal. Any damages so caused must be reported to the Court, it ordered.
The said details would be necessary for this court to take remedial action to recover such losses from the perpetrators of the illegality, the court said
“The police establishment in the State shall ensure that adequate measures are put in place to prevent any damage/destruction to public/private property of Government/citizens who do not support the call for hartal. In particular, the police shall also take steps to monitor any such activity by the supporters of the illegal hartal and shall place before this Court a report giving details of such instances and the extent of damage, if any, caused to public/private property. The said details would be necessary for this Court to take remedial action to recover such losses from the perpetrators of the illegality,”.the court said in its direction
The court noted that media reports about the flash hartal today, merely mentioned call for a flash hartal, but did not mention the details of the interim order passed by the Court banning such hartals.
“We, therefore, deem it necessary to once again request the Media to ensure that whenever such illegal flash hartals are called for, and it is apparent that the said hartal called is in violation of the orders passed by this Court, the public be duly informed of the said fact,” the court said
The PFI has on Thursday called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala on Friday in protest against the massive raids conducted by the National Investigation Agency(NIA) and Enforcement Directorate(ED) in its offices and residences of its leaders and the subsequent arrests of its prominent leaders
The court will hear the matter again on 29 September.