Bombay HC dismisses PIL against Anna`s fast

The Bombay High Court today dismissed a PIL which sought to declare Anna Hazare`s ongoing fast as "illegal" and that he and his supporters be restrained from going ahead with "fill-the-jail" agitation.

Updated: Dec 28, 2011, 14:37 PM IST

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today
dismissed a PIL which sought to declare Anna Hazare`s ongoing
fast as "illegal" and that he and his supporters be restrained
from going ahead with "fill-the-jail" agitation.

The PIL was dismissed by justices M L Tahaliyani and
Girish Godbole after Central Government`s Counsel R V Desai
argued that it was a "frivolous" petition and not in public
interest.

The judges were even inclined to impose costs on the
petitioner and asked his counsel Yusuf Iqbal why that should
not be done, to which he replied it was in public interest and
his client would not get any personal benefit out of it.

The court decided against imposing any costs but
dismissed the PIL filed by Mangleswar alias Munna Tripathi,
president of NGO `Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad`.

Hearing arguments yesterday, the bench had said agitation
was the right of every citizen and people staging a protest
were well aware of the consequences of breaking the law.

The Judges had questioned the delay in filing the PIL as
the agitation was announced long back. "Why are you opposing
it now when the fast has begun?" the bench had asked.

However, today, Tripathi`s lawyer argued that Hazare`s
methods of observing fast and holding `Jail Bharo Aandolan`
amounted to exerting pressure on the government.

Iqbal said the anti-corruption crusader had asked his
supporters to stage dharnas outside the houses of MPs and this
was not legally and morally correct as Lok Sabha had passed
the bill.

While the Centre took a stand that the PIL should not be
entertained and that law and order problem was a state
subject, the state government pleader submitted that they were
totally prepared to tackle the situation as strong police
bandobast had been maintained.

Counsel for the Union Government R V Desai argued that
people must have respect for the Constitution and that Hazare
should not oppose the bill in this manner of staging a fast,
particularly when Parliament was seized of the matter.

He said the petition did not appear to hold any public
interest and should not be entertained. However, law and order
is a state subject and the state should declare its stand on
this, Desai said.

State government pleader S S Saluja said the state was
fully equipped to tackle the situation. Although every citizen
had a right to resort to agitation, the protest should be
peaceful. So far, he said, there was no law and order problem
at the venue of the fast and policemen in large numbers were
deployed there.

The petitioner had sought court`s direction to Hazare
and his supporters to ensure that they do not break any law
and to restrain them from turning the agitation into a
political issue. The petition also sought that Hazare be
restrained from making any statement against any political
party.
"If such actions are allowed and encouraged then it
would tear the democracy of our country and will lead to
complete chaos and anarchy. It is highly wrong if a group of
persons who have no electoral mandate are allowed to force the
government and elected representatives to accept their version
of a law," the petition said.

PTI