Punjab and Haryana High Court: Manjari Nehru Kaul, J., had directed constituted a committee to find a way forward to put an end to the piquant situation regarding the farmer’s agitation across the country against the farm laws which had led to illegal blockade created by the protestors outside the Factory the Petitioner. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, the Bench reminded the State to work with the spirit of “malice towards none with charity for all.”
The petitioner company-Adani Wilmar Ltd., having its processing unit at Village Waan, Ferozepur, Punjab, had approached the Court for restraining the respondents from creating illegal blockade outside the Factory premises owned by the petitioner. The company conteded that the said blockade had resulted in the complete stoppage of operations of factory, any movement of goods as well as workers/employees to and from the said factory premises, which was a rice processing unit, in which, about 8752.68 MT of rice was lying stored, and being a perishable item and an essential commodity, was at the risk of being spoiled/rendered useless, if not immediately taken out of the Factory premises and utilized.
The petitioner submitted that since the beginning of the blockade, a total quantity of 26.35 MT of Rice stuck inside the said Factory, had already perished on account of it not being allowed to be taken out of the said Factory and quantity of 117.73 MT of rice was on the verge of being expired/rendered unfit for human consumption, and further, the aforesaid Rice was lying unsupervised and unprotected, as the workers/employees working in the Factory were not being allowed by the protesters to enter the Factory.
Accordingly, the petitioner requested the Court to issue a writ in the nature of Mandamus directing the respondents to remove illegal blockade created by the protestors outside the warehouse and to deploy adequate resources outside the sites in question in order to ensure free and safe ingress and egress of the goods of the Petitioner and also the safe movement of the workers/employees and ensure resuming operations which are currently closed due to the said blockade. The request was also made to direct the respondents to constitute a competent Authority in terms of Section 7 of the Punjab Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Act, 2014 to investigate any damage caused to the goods of the Petitioner or to the said Factory and Depot, in which, the said goods were stored. Additionally, relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Destruction of Public and Private Properties: In re, (2009) 5 SCC 212, the petitioner urged the Court to direct the respondent to set up a “machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation related thereto” in relation to any possible damage that might have been caused to the petitioner’s goods.
Considering the situation to be the extraordinary situation, to reconcile the competing rights and interests of all the stakeholders, the Bench directed the State authorities/respondents to ensure free movement of food grains etc., was not hindered from and to its facility and to ensure that while the Constitutional Rights of the petitioner-firm were not defeated, the situation on the ground did not go out of hand.
Noticing that the State authorities were conscious of the fact that any further delay would result in damaging the food-grains, which were lying stored in the facility of the petitioner firm, the Bench proceeded to constitute a Committee headed by Principal Secretary Home, Government of Punjab, including Additional Director General of Police, Law & Order Punjab,
Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepur, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepur amongst other officers to find a way forward to put an end to the piquant situation expeditiously and to prevent further loss/wastage of about eight thousand metric tonnes of food-grains lying stored in the facility of the petitioner’s firm, which a country like India can ill afford.[Adani Wilmar Ltd. v. State of Punjab, CWP-5645 of 2021, decided on 18-06-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
Appearance before the Court by:
For the Petitioner: Adv. Ashish Prasad, Adv. Rohit Sharma, Adv. Asheesh Gupta, Adv.Ishan, Adv. Rohit Chandel, Adv.Abhinav Sood, Adv. Pruthi Dhinoja, Adv. Jubin Mehta
For the Respondents: Sr. DAG Gaurav Garg Dhuriwala and Adv. Saigeeta Srivastva