Hartal violence: HC orders PFI to deposit Rs 5.2 crores in damages

Kerala High Court. Photo: E V Sreekumar.

Kochi: Taking a tough stance against the violence perpetrated during the hartal called by the Popular Front of India (PFI), the Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered the now-banned outfit to deposit Rs 5.2 crore for the damage suffered by the state government and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) during the illegal flash hartal.

The PFI should deposit the amount with the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, within two weeks, ordered the division bench of Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias CP.

Further, the court asked the state government to make PFI state secretary A Abdul Sathar an additional accused in all cases lodged in connection with the hartal violence, even as it put forward stringent bail conditions to those arrested in such cases.

A division bench, while considering the petition moved by the KSRTC seeking compensation for damages incurred, pointed out that the public is badly affected by such hartals and bandhs and that their lives cannot be put in peril.

The court had earlier filed a case suo motu against PFI for calling a flash hartal violating its 2019 order that banned such strikes in the state. 

The court directed the Magistrates and Sessions Courts in the state that bails should be granted to the accused in the hartal cases only after ensuring the deposition of the compensation amount. Otherwise, strict proceedings should be initiated, including the attachment of assets. 

Earlier, the KSRTC approached the High Court stating that it suffered damage worth Rs 5.06 crore in the hartal violence.

The court directed the State Government to recover the revenue loss suffered by the corporation from the PFI and asked the administration to submit a report in this regard. The KSRTC informed the court that a total of 58 buses were damaged, and 20 of its employees were injured in the violence.

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