Try agitation leaders for damage to property, says apex court

NEW DELHI - Leaders of organisations should be prosecuted for the destruction of or damage to public property during agitations spearheaded by them, the Supreme Court recommended Thursday.

The court said the government should enact laws to prosecute leaders of organisations for the damages.

A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat also issued suggestions to public authorities on how to deal with damage and destruction of properties during agitations called by political or non-political organisations.

The bench, which also included Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta and Justice P. Sathasivam, said pending enactment of legislation to deal with popular stirs, the government should accept suggestions made earlier by two panels appointed by the apex court.

The bench had been seized of the issue since May 2007 when it took cognizance of the central and state governments’ failure to contain the Gujjar community’s agitation and allowed it to hold at least three states, including Delhi, to ransom for several days.

During adjudication of the matter, the court formed two committees, one headed by former Supreme Court Justice K.T. Thomas and another by noted jurist Fali S. Nariman, to examine the effectiveness of existing measures to prevent vandalism of public property during strikes and rallies.

Acting on the apex court directions, the two panels submitted to it their reports in January this year, suggesting stringent action against the organisers of such events.

The Justice Thomas as well as Nariman committee recommended holding individual leaders responsible for damages to public properties.

‘The suggestions are extremely important and they constitute sufficient guidelines which need to be adopted. But we leave it to the appropriate authorities to take effective steps for their implementation. At this juncture we are not inclined to give any positive directions,’ said the bench, while asking the government to consider making laws on the lines of suggestions made by the two panels.


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