As a growing child in Jhansi UP I have been witness to this word Bandh and Hadtaal. Parents and elder brother and sister used to have a standing instruction. Don’t go out trouble makers are rarely caught, onlookers get arrested.
Trade Unions and Political parties have used this tool to arm twist the government consistently. Right from demands by rickshaw drivers to increase fare to anything.
Honorable Supreme Court of India and some Hon. High Court have pulled up the people and organisations responsible for such Bandh where public property was damaged and government staff were physically harmed.
Section 3 in The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 clearly defines the same.
In 2009 Hon. Supreme Court of India has already given salient points for the same.
There is provision for minimum imprisonment of six months and maximum of five years. We don’t need more law. We need implementation of the Section 3 and it should be time bound.
On April 16, 2009 in the case of Destruction of Public & Private Properties v. State of A.P., 2009 (5) SCC 212 A three Judge bench of Hon. SC of India took up the cause suo motu on this issue.
What did it say?
“As soon as there is a demonstration organised:
(I) The organiser shall meet the police to review and revise the route to be taken and to lay down conditions for a peaceful march or protest;
(II) All weapons, including knives, lathis and the like shall be prohibited;
(III) An undertaking is to be provided by the organisers to ensure a peaceful march with marshals at each relevant junction;
(IV) The police and the State Government shall ensure videography of such protests to the maximum extent possible;
(V) The person-in-charge to supervise the demonstration shall be SP (if the situation is confined to the district) and the highest police officer in the State, where the situation stretches beyond one district;
(VI) In the event that demonstrations turn violent, the officer-in-charge shall ensure that the events are videographed through private operators and also request such further information from the media and others on the incidents in question;
(VII) The police shall immediately inform the State Government with reports on the events, including damage, if any, caused by the police; and
(VIII) The State Government shall prepare a report on the police reports and other information that may be available to it and shall file a petition including its report in the High Court or the Supreme Court as the case may be for the Court in question to take suo motu action.”
In the absence of legislation the following guidelines are to be adopted to assess damages:
“(I) Wherever a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests or thereof, the High Court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation related thereto.
(II) Where there is more than one State involved, such action may be taken by the Supreme Court.
(III) In each case, the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, appoint a sitting or retired High Court Judge or a sitting or retired District Judge as a Claims Commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.
(IV) An assessor may be appointed to assist the Claims Commissioner.
(V) The Claims Commissioner and the assessor may seek instructions from the High Court or the Supreme Court as the case may be, to summon the existing video or other recordings from private and public sources to pinpoint the damage and establish nexus with the perpetrators of the damage.
(VI) The principles of absolute liability shall apply once the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established.
(VII) The liability will be borne by the actual perpetrators of the crime as well as the organisers of the event giving rise to the liability—to be shared, as finally determined by the High Court or the Supreme Court as the case may be.
(VIII) Exemplary damages may be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount of the damages liable to be paid.
(IX) Damages shall be assessed for:
(a) damages to public property;
(b) damages to private property;
(c) damages causing injury or death to a person or persons; and
(d) cost of the actions by the authorities and police to take preventive and other actions.
(X) The Claims Commissioner will make a report to the High Court or the Supreme Court which will determine the liability after hearing the parties.”
Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, has accepted the recommendations of the said Justice K.T. Thomas Committee and has proposed to amend the aforesaid Act.
The government has taken public opinion on the same.
Most of the protests are well planned and well executed. Sufferer are common people of all age group and government staff.
High time the organisers are made to pay for the damages in time bound manner. Some in Media too should be made to follow certain guidelines to ensure there are no double meaning of what is said and written in TV and print. Any media house or journalist/s spreading unrest should be treated the same way, the way a common person is treated. There can’t be kids glove for select profession.
There are NGOs too who have worked against the interest of India. Government has been swift to act against them. The only barrier I see is the law with regard to such NGO should be tweaked in such a way that they don’t land up making use of stay order.
Source & Credit: http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=34322, screen shots from Twitter.
Picture Credit: www.the hansindia.com