By: Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh.
People of Manipur has been experiencing BANDH, General Strikes, and Blockades in various forms for various reasons for the last so many years. To achieve their demands, for small & pity matters, using Bandh, General strikes as tools or weapons by our peoples has been something like culture in Manipur. However, whether many of the movement using Bandh & Blockades to achieve their demand was successful or not is a big question to be asked. In the Fundamental Right given by the 19th Article of Indian Constitution, every citizen of India has the right to express his opinion, desire etc. To obtain or achieve their rightful demand from the Government they can take up any type of peaceful protest or movement without any weapons. However, a big question arises at this point of time. Can someone or a group of people disturb other by using the fundamental right given to them by Indian Constitution? As an answer to this question, we can recall the landmark judgment given by KERELA HIGH COURT. In the judgment against the writ petition filled by one person called BHARAT KUMAR, the full Bench of KERELA HIGH COURT given the verdict that BANDH is entirely different from the HARTAL or STRIKE as BANDH is against the Constitution. The verdict of the KERELA HIGH COURT was also endorsed by the SUPREME COURT of India. CPI (M) challenged the verdict of Kerala High Court and filled a petition in Supreme Court against it. In the verdict by the Supreme Court against this petition said, the Fundamental right of an individual or a group of individuals cannot embrace the Fundamental right of the people of our Nation or Country. Therefore Bandh can’t be called which is against the right of the others and damage the property of the State. In an Affidavit by the MAHARASTRA Government in the BOMBAY HIGH COURT against a writ petition in connection with the Bandh it was mentioned that in LONDON any type of protest by the general public to obtain their demand from the Government are held at HIGH PARK without disturbing others. In the same manner, in Maharashtra also this can be held at AZAD MAIDEIN .This will not disturb the Fundamental Right of others when a group of people demand their Fundamental right. In comply with the affidavit by the Maharashtra Government, Bombay High Court had given the verdict that any kind of people’s movement should not disturb other. According to an observation given by Supreme Court to control Bandh & Hartal it is mentioned that Bandh or Hartal shouldn’t cause inconvenience, loss of properties, and fear to public and individual, damage of state property and Government should take up appropriate action to safeguard public life and property. Supreme Court has given the power to the state to recover any kind of losses from the leaders of the group or Organization as Compensation. For the first time an order was issued to give compensation to a Hotel by a former MLA of Shiva Senna in Maharashtra in connection with the damaged caused by a group of people led by him on 21st July 2009 under Bombay Police Act 1951,Section-51 clause-3.The matter was brought to the Bombay High Court. The Bombay High Court endorsed Government order and issued an order to the MLA to give Rs7.8 lakhs as compensation to the Hotel. Supreme Court also gave the state Government to frame rules and regulation to protect and prevent the loss of life and property due to Bandh & Hartal. Supreme Court also given power to the State to amend the Prevention of damage to public property Act 1984 in order to take up appropriate legal action against the leaders of Bandh & Hartal. This is the matters of Law and issue of Government. However can this be applicable in our state where frequent Bandhs and Blockades exist? This is a big question that everybody asked. Bandhs or General strikes are also being called from time to time by unlawful Organizations. At the same time there is culture like habits of calling Band by JAC or Local or Villagers instantaneously without prior public notice for a simple pity matter or problem. To those which are under the purview of Law and Government, taking appropriate action will not be a hard shell to crack. However who will punish to those so called unlawful Organizations? To whom it will be concern for anything loss and damage of passenger vehicles, shops and at the offices at the remote areas who all comply the Government order for stringent action to those not complying the order? It’s high time for the Government to take up and frame rules and regulation compatible with our land for a long and sustainable solution to curve the menace of Bandh, Blockades and General Strikes which cause unrepairable damages and hindrance to our development process.
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Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.
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