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Kerala HC initiates suo motu contempt case against PFI after the organisation called for 1 day hartal, created violence, post arrest of Islamists

It also directed the State Police to bear in mind the clauses of relevant penal laws, such as the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Act, 2019, as well as Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, when registering cases against those found to be in violating the law.

On Friday, the Kerala High Court filed a suo motu complaint against members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) for declaring a one-day statewide bandh in the state without permission and for inciting violence. The court stated that hartal had previously been prohibited and that the damage to public property could not be tolerated.

A division bench comprising Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias CP sharply condemned Islamist organisation PFI, which has been under fire for its operations across the country and for breaching the Court’s directives. “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 was quoted.

The initial hours of the protest organized by the PFI were marked with widespread violence and car assaults. The PFI began its protest on Friday morning in Kerala against the nationwide raids and arrests by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Several incidents of stone pelting were reported in the state on September 23. Two lorries were destroyed, as were the windshields of two Kerala State Road Transport (KSRTC) vehicles. Stones were also hurled at vehicles in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, and Wayanad by the PFI workers.

The Court took cognizance of the violence and directed the police to ensure adequate measures are put in place to prevent any damage to public or private property of people who do not support the call for a strike. “Adequate police protection shall also be granted to all public utility services that apprehend violence, at the hands of those supporting the illegal hartal,” the Court said.

It also directed the State Police to bear in mind the clauses of relevant penal laws, such as the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Act, 2019, as well as Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, when registering cases against those found to be in violating the law.

The Court recounted that it had issued a decree in January 2019 taking note of the rare circumstances in the State of Kerala where calls for hartal have over the years come to hold an implied indication of violence threatening the general public. As a result, the Court had ruled that anybody, including any political party or another group of people, who intends to conduct a general strike or hartal shall give 7 clear days’ public notice of their intention to do so.

Normal life has been disrupted in several parts of Kerala, notably in PFI strongholds, as buses controlled by private operators have been kept off the roads. Hundreds of travellers who arrived at train stations from distant locations were stuck this morning and schools either stayed closed or reported low attendance. Shops and businesses in Muslim dominating communities are also closed.

Several Police officers have also been reported injured after the PFI members attacked the officers amid the protest. According to police, a bomb was thrown at a two-wheeler in Kannur, while two police officers were injured by a bike while attempting to disperse demonstrators in Kollam. Officers noted that at Erattupetta in Kottayam district, hartal supporters battled with police as the latter attempted to disperse the throng. PFI activists also compelled many businesses to shut down.

Reportedly, the Kerala High Court suo motu has impleaded PFI State General Secretary A Abdul Sathar as an additional respondent in the case and has directed the State government to file a report. The matter will be taken up next on September 29.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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