Gauhati high court bans bandhs; agitators to pay for losses
The Gauhati high court on Tuesday banned all kinds of bandh-calls and directed the Assam government to constitute a Bandh Loss Compensation Fund within three months.
Hearing a petition filed by Lower Assam Inter District Stage Carrier Bus Owners Association, a bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan said that these frequent band calls hamper the daily life and business of citizens. The court observed, “General public continue to suffer the depredations of the bandh organizers so much so that even doctors attending to their duties have not been spared.”
The court directed the police to lodge FIRs against organizations that call and enforce these bandhs.
Justice Bhuyan further said that the Guwahati police commissioner or any of his subordinate officers whom he may authorise, will have to file an FIR at Panbazar police station here within 24 hours of an Assam bandh or state-wide blockade. They will also furnish written information to the commissioner and secretary of home and political department within three to seven days of lodging of the FIR with case details.
“Similarly, in case of a district bandh or a bandh covering more than one district or a local bandh or a blockade of either road or rail of similar nature, the jurisdictional superintendent of police shall lodge the first information at the competent police station within 24 hours and inform the commissioner and secretary of home and political department within three to seven days,” the court order said.
The court asked the Assam Police Accountability Commission to monitor filing of first information and registration of cases and take appropriate action in case of any default or non-seriousness in complying with the court directions.
The court stated the organizer or organizers of such bandh or blockade, at least the principal office bearers of such organizer(s), would be liable to be prosecuted under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989. In addition, those indulging in violence and intimidation including preventing people from attending to their duties would also have to be booked under the relevant penal provisions.
Further, the court directed the Assam government to constitute a Bandh Loss Compensation Fund within a period three months, which will be managed by an authority headed by a retired district and sessions judge and which may include one administrative officer, retired or serving. The authority may take assistance of an assessor or a valuer while examining or assessing claim for compensation.
The quantum of loss recovered under direction shall be deposited by the Assam government into the Bandh Loss Compensation Fund.