The Kerala High Court on Tuesday issued notices to leaders of several right-wing organisations on a petition that sought for leaders of various outfits to pay for damages during the hartal called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi. The petition sought for the court to seek compensation for the damage during hartal organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi, on January 3.
The court issued the notices on a petition filed by TN Mukundan, a native of Thrissur. The Karma Samithi called for the hartal after two women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, prayed at the Sabarimala temple. Sporadic violence occurred during the hartal which resulted in damage to public and private properties. The hartal was backed by various right-wing organisations.
The notices were sent to Hindu Aikya Vedi leader KP Sasikala, BJP leaders PS Sreedharan Pillai, O Rajagopal, PK Kirshnadas, AN Radhakrishan, former DGP TP Senkumar and former Chairman of the Kerala State Public Service Commission KS Radhakrishnan, for extending their support to the shutdown.
The petition by Mukundan pointed out to a Supreme Court verdict on a petition filed by the Kodungallur Film Society. In October 2018, the SC ordered that the Kerala government must issue guidelines to deter acts of vandalism and hooliganism carried out in the name of public protests.
"The SC verdict says that if any group or organisation causes violence and damage, their leaders should be present in the police station for questioning. But in this case, those who were responsible for the hartal didnâ€™t appear at police stations," the petition points out.
The petition was also set aside, to be heard with that of the one filed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry seeking to ban hartals.
On Monday, the court on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, held that any group that wishes to call for a hartal should declare it seven days prior to the date and any citizen can approach the court challenging the hartal during the seven-day notice period.
Meanwhile, hearing a bunch of other petitions and considering the reports by the Sabarimala Special Commissioner and the Monitoring Panel appointed by it, the court asked the government if Bindu and Kanaka were devotees or if they had any hidden agenda.
"It can't be said that the government had any agenda. But the government should be able to understand those who have agenda,â€ť the court noted.
The court also said that Sabarimala is not a venue for protest, but a space for the devotees.
The court sought explanation from the government for bringing the women of Mathini group to Sannidhanam in a private vehicle. The court also criticised the government for breaching the order not allowing private vehicles from Nilakkal to Pamba.