The Kerala High Court on Monday imposed a ban on shutdowns that have not been announced at least seven days in advance, Live Law reported. Any citizen can challenge a shutdown within those seven days, the court said.
Hartals organised without a seven-day notice are unconstitutional, the division bench of Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar ruled.
The order comes days after statewide violence following a shutdown was called by the Sabarimala Action Council, an umbrella group of Hindutva organisations to protest against the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple on January 2. Over 3,000 people were arrested in connection with the violence and vandalism across Kerala.
The Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry had moved the Kerala High Court against such shutdowns, claiming that 97 hartals were conducted in the state in the last year, causing severe losses for business and livelihood of workers.
The shutdowns paralysed normal life on all these days, forcing public offices and educational institutions to shut down, the petition said. All political parties in the state were respondents in the petition. The plea demanded that police protection be provided to shops and businesses during hartals.
The court ruled that organisers of hartals would be be liable for any damages on the day, reported The Indian Express.