The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ban architects support fine

New Delhi, July 24: The architects of two Supreme Court judgments banning bandhs by political parties and “strike in any form” by government employees today welcomed Bombay High Court’s decision to penalise the BJP and the Shiv Sena for calling a bandh.

Both Justice V.N. Khare, a former chief justice, and Justice M.B. Shah said it was a “good beginning and a correct step in the right direction”.

The Sena and the BJP had called the bandh on July 30 last year in protest against a series of blasts in the city. The high court had yesterday slapped a fine of Rs 20 lakh each on the two parties based on the two apex court judgments.

Justice Khare’s verdict had come in a case involving a political party in Kerala. In his ruling, the judge had said no party could resort to bandhs and force others to participate in it.

In his ruling, in the case of about two lakh Tamil Nadu government employees dismissed by the Jayalalithaa regime for going on strike, Justice Shah had said employees and trade unions representing them had “no legal, fundamental, moral or justifiable and equitable right to strike”.

In a democracy, government employees are part and parcel of the governing body and owe duty to society, the bench had said.

Justice Shah, now the president of the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, said “in the name of democracy and democratic right to protest, you cannot damage public and private properties and infringe upon the fundamental rights of others”.

“Think of the daily wagers, hawkers, thela-wallahs... they have to earn their daily bread... perhaps that evening meal, the only one meal they earn after a whole day’s work.... You cannot take away that right... that inalienable fundamental right to life in the name of anything, leave alone democracy,” he said.

As a judge in Bombay High Court, before his elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Shah had delivered a verdict, much before the Kerala case, banning processions by political parties.

Both the judges said a citizen could file an FIR with police for “criminal trespass, criminal intimidation and also claim damages for personal or public property”. The Indian Penal Code provides for such a complaint, they pointed out.

Justice Shah, however, added that after filing an FIR, the question of proof would arise and it would be difficult to prove who the actual culprit was in a procession or a bandh situation.

“So, law has to evolve itself and evolution is always slow... it is only a beginning and slowly, regulatory laws like restricting a procession or place of protest to a particular time of the day or evening and earmarking a place are all part of it,” the judge said.

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