Kerala high court orders PFI to pay Rs 5.2 crore for damages caused during hartal

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Kerala high court orders PFI to pay Rs 5.2 crore for damages caused during hartal

The Kerala High Court ordered PFI to compensate for the damages incurred during the bandh it held last week in protest of the raids that were taking place on the locations and on officials, a day after the banned organisation was given a five-year ban.

The state government and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) estimate that the Popular Front of India has caused damages totaling Rs 5.2 crore, and the court has ordered them to pay. The bandh was called days before the Center on Wednesday, after a raid in various states, blacklisted the group and its affiliates for five years.

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The claim commissioner, who will decide how much PFI paid to settle the claims, has already been selected, according to the bench. Lower courts were instructed by a division bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and C P Mohammad Nias not to grant bail to the accused till the damages are paid.

“Life of citizen cannot be put in peril. The message is loud and clear. If anybody does it, this will be the consequence. You can have your organisation and demonstrations against any cause. The Constitution permits it, but no flash hartals,” the court noted.

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In 2019, the court ruled that a hartal required at least seven days’ notice and that unexpected shutdowns were unlawful and unconstitutional. The court took cognisance on its own of the PFI’s bandh last Friday. It was stated that if the damages were not paid for, stringent processes, including the attachment of their property, could be started.

The violence during the bandh resulted in damage to 58 of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s buses and injuries to 20 of its staff, which the corporation had reported to the court. The Court gave the Magistrates and Sessions Court instructions that anytime a bail application based on the PFI hartal issue is brought up, the bail shall be granted subject to a deposit of the money lost due to property damage.

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The court was informed that numerous criminal cases had been filed for the losses incurred during the hartal, which is why this was done.

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