Millennium Post

SC grants last opportunity to states to reply

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted the "last opportunity" to various state governments to file their responses on a plea alleging non-implementation of its guidelines on strikes and 'dharnas' by political parties and others, causing damage to private and public properties.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud granted four weeks to the states, which have not filed their counter affidavits, to do so, otherwise their rights would be closed.
"If no counter affidavit is filed, then it would be presumed that they (states) do not want to contest the petition. In that case, their right to file the response will be forfeited and the court will proceed with the matter," it said.
The court had on July 7 also granted four weeks time to the states which had not responded, to file their replies.
In February 2013, it had issued notices to the Centre and all the states seeking their responses on the allegation that the apex court guidelines issued in this regard in 2007 and 2009 have not been implemented. It had sought status reports explaining the steps they had taken to implement the guidelines and prevent destruction of property during demonstrations and hartals. The court had passed the direction on a PIL filed by advocate Koshy Jacob who had given instances of such 'bandhs' or 'hartals' declared by political parties in Kerala.
He had also told the court that they had sought the information under Right to Information Act from other states but they had not given any material.
The PIL submitted that there were "wilful and deliberate omissions" on the part of the authorities to comply with the April 16, 2009 guidelines of the apex court in a matter relating to destruction of public and private properties.
The PIL had alleged that if a 'bandh' or 'hartal' was declared by a political party in power, the state government remained mute spectators in disregarding the judgments and guidelines of the apex court, which results in destruction of private and public property in large cases.
The petition has referred to the recommendations of two committees appointed by the apex court on the issue, to which the court had given green signal for immediate implementation.
Justice (Retd) K T Thomas committee had made recommendations relating to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The F S Nariman committee had also made recommendations that have to be followed in the absence of legislation in this regard.

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