While presenting the Kerala Regulation of Hartal Bill-2015 before the Assembly on Wednesday, Home minister Ramesh Chennithala said that the "aim is to curb unnecessary hartals."
The bill was later referred to the Select Committee for consideration.
Opposing the bill, LDF members AK Balan, EP Jayarajan and K Suresh Kurup termed it anti-democratic, anti-people and against the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution. EP Jayarajan pointed out that when the LDF government was in power, the then United Democratic Front (UDF) opposition had declared 40 hartals. Even the Supreme Court had stated that such legislation was not possible, he said, calling it a black law.
The Left leaders accused the government of trying to curb the opposition saying that the proposed bill went against the basic spirit of the Constitution.
The home minister responded to the same by drawing attention to the clause of reasonable restrictions mentioned in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. "It's a delicate balance between rights and restrictions. Freedom without boundaries or borders or restrictions would never be appreciated," Chennithala observed.
The Opposition also criticized the minister for sharing the draft of the bill through social media and inviting comments from the public, with the Opposition being made a mute witness.
However speaker N Shakthan in his ruling said since it was done with good intentions, there was nothing illegal about it.
"Say No to Hartal" is incidentally a movement started by Raju P Nair, an entrepreneur and member of the Congress party. https://www.ketto.org/saynotoharthal It was this collective initiative which paved the way for the introduction of this Citizen’s Bill in the Kerala Assembly.