Kerala High Court directs PFI to pay Rs 5.20 crore for damages caused during strike
The Muslim organisation had held demonstrations last week after the National Investigation Agency arrested 22 of its members.
The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed Muslim organisation Popular Front of India to deposit Rs 5.20 crores as damages for losses incurred during a strike called by the outfit against the arrest of its cadres by the National Investigation Agency last week, reported Live Law.
The order came a day after the central government banned the organisation for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged terror activities.
During the strike called last week, protestors supporting the Popular Front of India had smashed the windscreens of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Panthalam, Kollam, Thrissur and Kannur, The Hindu reported. In Kozhikode, a bus driver was injured.
The Kerala High Court had initiated contempt proceedings against Popular Front of India leaders on September 23 following the violent protests. On Tuesday, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation had moved the High Court and sought Rs 5.06 crores as compensation for the damages caused to the corporation during the protests, reported Live Law.
At Thursday’s hearing, a division bench comprising Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias CP observed that the Popular Front of India and its general secretary are “wholly and directly responsible” for the injuries inflicted by their supporters on the citizens, and for the damage caused to public and private property, reported Live Law.
“Flash hartals in this state are not going to happen irrespective of political views, party or any others,” the bench noted. “Life of citizens cannot be put in peril. The message is loud and clear. If anybody does it, this will be the consequence.”
However, the bench said that peaceful demonstrations conducted after a public notice are allowed and are guaranteed under the Constitution.
The bench also remarked orally that it will issue directions to all the sessions and magistrate courts, wherever the bail application of the Popular Front of India workers is filed, to insist on a deposit of an amount equivalent to the loss incurred for damaging the property as a bail condition, reported The New Indian Express.
The bench clarified that amount is provisional and will be held by the state government in a dedicated account for disbursal to those claimants who are identified by the claims commissioner as entitled to such amounts.
On September 22, the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate raided premises linked to the Popular Front of India in 11 states and arrested over 100 leaders and functionaries. On Tuesday, the anti-terror agency arrested more than 150 persons linked to the Popular Front of India for allegedly having terror links during raids in seven states.
The Popular Front of India was created in 2007 through the merger of three Muslim organisations in southern India. It describes itself as an organisation that works towards “the achievement of socio-economic, cultural and political empowerment of the deprived and the downtrodden and the nation at large”.