SC slams rail, road blockades

The Supreme Court stressed the need for taking preventive measures and giving free hand to police without any influence to counter the menace of road and rail blockades across the country.

Last Updated: Nov 01, 2011, 19:56 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stressed
the need for taking preventive measures and giving free hand
to police without any influence to counter the menace of road
and rail blockades across the country during strikes and
agitations in which public property also becomes a target.

"Why does the government not take preventive means", a
bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya
said while speaking about some of the past incidents of
agitations which witnessed destruction of public property and
transport system.

The bench was of the view that timely and coordinated
action by various law enforcing agencies without any influence
from any quarters would benefit them in dealing with such
situations.

"Our problem is when police take action and there is also
a problem when the police do not take action. Unless a free
hand is given without any influence and pressure from any
quarters, it would be difficult to prevent such a situation,"
the bench said.

The remarks were made by the bench during the hearing of
the petition on the issue of dalit killings in Mirchpur
village in Hisar District of Haryana in April 2010 in which
large scale violence, rail and road blockades, including
destruction of public property, were witnessed after people
from Jat community were arrested.

The case has resulted in the conviction of 15 people.

Three were sentenced to life term and five accused were jailed
for five years while seven others were released on probation
of one year as most of them were first-time offenders.

The bench during today`s hearing said while the situation
in the central part of the country can be noticed and steps
are taken by the agencies, the situation in other parts,
including the north-eastern states, is different where road
blockades continue for three months.

The bench gave a specific example of blockade of
Agra-Bharatpur road for 40 days during the agitation by the
Gujjar Community demanding reservation in government jobs.

During today`s hearing, Solicitor General Rohinton
Nariman, emphasised the need for coordinated action by various
law enforcing agencies like local police, Government Railway
Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) to prevent
such a situation rather than coming out with a cure.

"Things like this should not happen. There is no
coordination between local police and Railway police. We have
to prevent such happenings rather than curing," he said and
sought some more time to come out with suggestions on the
issue of framing a guidelines for fixing responsibility for
all such losses on state governments for failure to maintain
law and order in their respective state.

The court was informed that Railways suffered a loss of
over Rs 33 crore during the agitation by the Jat community
against the police action on the Mirchpur dalit killings.

PTI