Thursday, October 6, 2022

Blocking NHs, public roads punishable offence: State govt

State Home department has decreed that calling for bandhs, strikes, agitations involving blocking National Highways and public roads in the State as a mode of agitation to press for various demands was a punishable offence.
An office memorandum issued on August 16 by home commissioner Abhijit Sinha said that certain individuals, organizations and associations had been calling for bandhs, strikes, agitations involving blocking highways and public roads as a mode of agitation to press for their grievances.
Citing various judgments of Supreme Court and high courts, the memo stated the courts have held that bandhs and road blockades were illegal and unconstitutional and organisers must be prosecuted. The memo, therefore, specified that blocking highways and public roads was a punishable offence under relevant sections of National Highway Act, 1956, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 and Indian Penal Code . It also noted that in some cases, as a part of agitation to press for certain local demands, calls are given for disturbing celebrations of national days or forcefully prevent law-abiding citizens from participating in such functions.
The memo said that any forceful act with the intent to disturb the celebration of national days was illegal and a serious offence, warning that the culprits were liable to be prosecuted under relevant sections of law. It ruled that any purported grievances for any agitation should be brought to the notice of and pursued with the government authority concerned for appropriate action. It declared that any public gathering meant to express views/grievances or otherwise without prior permission of the competent district authorities was illegal. Further, district authorities were also empowered under law to firmly deal with those indulging in actions that violated the law or created law and order problem or disturbed the existing atmosphere of peace and public tranquillity or caused nuisance and obstruction to general public.
The home commissioner directed the district administration and police officials to appropriately sensitise the organisations and groups concerned which had any pending grievance or had given a call for disruptive agitation.
Further, in case of any violation by any individual, group or association, the memo asked the authorities concerned to initiate appropriate action under the relevant provisions of IPC, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, the National Highway Act, 1956 and other such appropriate laws depending upon the violation, disruption ad disturbances caused.