Kerala High Court holds PFI in contempt for flash hartal

Police take action against PFI activists after nationwide raids. The radical Islamic outfit has been accused of terror-related activties. PTI

New Delhi: The Kerala High Court took suo motu case against radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and its state general secretary over declaring hartal in the state today.

A call for a flash hartal was made yesterday by the PFI, said Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar.

According to the Kerala High Court, “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 issued directions to the police to ensure adequate measures to prevent any damage or destruction to public and private property of those who do not support the call for hartal.

“In particular, the police shall also take steps to monitor any such activity by the supporters of the illegal hartal and shall place before this Court a report giving details of such instances and the extent of damage, if any, caused to public/private property. The said details would be necessary for this Court to take remedial action to recover such losses from the perpetrators of the illegality,” Justice Nambiar said.

The court also asked the police to grant adequate protection to all public utility services that apprehend violence, at the hands of those supporting the illegal hartal.

The high court, in its order, also noted that media houses were reporting the news of “flash hartal” without mentioning the details of the order passed by the Court declaring it as illegal the calls for hartal without seven days public notice.

“We, therefore, deem it necessary to once again request the media to ensure that whenever such illegal flash hartals are called for, and it is apparent that the said hartal called is in violation of the orders passed by this Court, the public be duly informed of the said fact,” the court said.

It added that it would suffice to a large extent, in allaying the apprehensions of the general public as regards the legality of the call for hartal and also dissuade providers of public utility services from heeding to such calls for illegal hartals in future.

The court has now posted the matter for the report of the state government on 29 September.

The high court had on 7 January, 2019 made it clear that flash hartals, namely those hartals/strikes called without adhering to the procedure of giving seven days public notice, would be deemed illegal/unconstitutional entailing adverse consequences to the persons/party calling for the hartal.

With inputs from agencies

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