Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Bench of Sunil Thomas, J. dismissed a bail application filed by an individual under Section 438 CrPC, for being involved in acts of vandalism during hartal called by a political party.

Facts of the case were that a political party had declared a hartal in Kerala. The uncle of de facto complainant opened his shop despite the call for hartal. Defacto complainant went to the shop in the morning. Petitioner along with other persons abused him and caused damage to the movables in the shop. When the defacto complainant intervened, petitioner hit him on the head injuring his right eye. A case was registered against petitioner for offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 294(b), 308, 323, 324 and 427 read with Section 149 of the Penal Code, 1860. Apprehending arrest, petitioner approached this court seeking anticipatory bail.

The Court noted that the aforesaid criminal acts were done by the petitioner under the cover of hartal called by a political party. Petitioner and his group’s act was nothing but sheer vandalism, under the guise of hartal. Call for hartal by any political party only gives the right to the members of that political party to withdraw themselves from their work as a protest. They may also persuade their fellow workers to withdraw from their work. But that does not empower them to commit criminal acts, much less, any act intended to interfere in the exercise of the fundamental right of any person to move freely anywhere in India and to carry on his trade or business anywhere in India. Reliance was placed on Full Bench decision of this Court in George Kurian v. State of Kerala, 2004 SCC OnLine Ker 42 where it was held that nobody can be compelled to participate in hartal and general strike.

Further, the Court also relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Kodungallur Film Society v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 713 where it was held that any mob violence and crime by self-appointed keepers of public morality, terrorizing common man without legal sanction and causing loss of life and destruction of property, should be dealt with seriously. It was opined that bail applications filed by persons charged with such offence should be dealt with circumspection.

In view of the above, anticipatory bail was rejected.[Vinod. P v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1012, Order dated 20-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Delhi High Court took suo motu cognizance of violence and vandalism against members of the Delhi Bar. The Bar in it’s resolution dated 23rd January, 2018 and 22nd January, 2018 mentioned that the Counsel who were victimised were so victimised because they were appearing as counsel for a lady advocate.

The Court noted that there was shocking similarity in the design and manner of the execution of the incidents of violence and vandalism and hence, opined that the incidents could not be treated as separate incidents. The court noted that FIRs have been filed in relation to the incidents but even after a month, minimal steps have been taken by the police in providing assistance and carrying out investigation. The Court, stating that such violence to thwart legal assistance in pending cases is tantamount to criminal contempt of court. In view of above observations, the Court invoked it’s suo motu jurisdiction to call upon an immediate report from the Delhi Police. Also, it directed the matter to be treated as a writ in public interest. [Court on it’s own motion v. Commissioner of Police, Delhi, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 7221, decided on 29.01.2018]