Make strike callers pay for public property damaged: apex court

January 16th, 2009 - 9:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday favoured a law making various political parties and trade unions directly responsible for the damage caused to public property during strikes or shutdowns called by them and making them pay for the loss.A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice A.K. Ganguly made the suggestion while mulling over the issue of preventing damage and destruction of public properties during various types of agitations.

The bench had been seized of the issue since May 2007, when it had taken cognizance of the central and various states governments’ failure to contain the Gujjar agitation and allowing them to hold at least three states, including Delhi, to ransom for several days.

Later during the adjudication of the matter, the court had also formed two committees, one headed by former apex court judge K.T. Thomas and another headed by noted jurist Fali S. Nariman, to examine the effectiveness of the existing measures to prevent vandalism and damage to public property during strikes and rallies.

While perusing the reports submitted Friday by the two committees, the bench suggested holding political parties and trade unions directly responsible for the damage. The two panels had suggested stringent action against the organisers of such events.

Both the committees have recommended making certain individual leaders responsible for damage to public property during such strikes.

While the Justice Thomas committee suggested strengthening the provisions of Prevention of Damage to Public Properties Act, 1984, the Nariman committee suggested self-regulation on the part of the media in covering agitations by political parties and blacking out the scenes of violence by them.

Taking on record the two reports, the bench said: “Very important suggestions have been given by the two committees which need to be seriously deliberated upon as public property in large scale is damaged in agitations and strikes.”

The bench asked all the states and Union Territories to respond to the reports by February and posted the matter for further hearing on March 17.

The Justice Thomas Committee included Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati, former CBI director R.K. Raghavan, senior advocate K. Parasaran and officers of the Ministries of Home Affairs and Law and Justice, not below the rank of additional secretaries.

The Nariman Committee included Editors-in-Chief of Times of India, Indian Express and Prannoy Roy of NDTV, besides additional secretary level officers of the I&B Ministry and Home Affairs.

Vahanvati and senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter, was also in the Committee.

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