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Damage to Public Property

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Feb 2016 12:00 AM GMT

At long last, the Supreme Court has taken note of the damage done to public property as a result of violent protests by agitators. Over the years, no one seems to have decided on how to deal with such actions. The complete lack of responsibility on the part of agitators or political parties that sponsor such agitations and protests is a striking facet of all such demonstrations in India. The most common course of action for agitators is to make a swift exit from the scene as soon as policemen appear on the scene. As a result, the custodians of the law have no way of knowing who actually caused the damage to public property. Lately, agitators have also resorted to the despicable practice of ganging up and attacking urmed policemen. The recent protests by the Jats of Harya over the reservation issue led to several instances of public property being damaged. Whether this proved to be the last straw for the Supreme Court or not, on Wednesday, the apex court expressed concern over the damage to public and private property during violent protests and said it would lay down “parameters” to fix accountability for losses on organizers as the country cannot be held to “ransom”. This is far better than the Supreme Court merely issuing a directive that might not be heeded in an age when even politicians and lawmakers are often guilty of inciting such lawlessness. No law-abiding citizen wishes to see directives of the Supreme Court being flouted, but we live in a country where lawmakers including chief ministers break the code of conduct laid down by the Election Commission in respect of distribution of gifts to voters before elections. One also recalls how some years ago, a Supreme Court directive banning the burning of firewood collected from forests was totally ignored because the apex court had no means of enforcing its directive in remote parts of the country. Therefore, the tion will await with great interest the guidelines that the Supreme Court proposes to issue on a vital matter like preventing the damage of public and private property that is often caused in the course of violent protests. Whatever guidelines the Supreme Court chooses to issue can doubtless also be supplemented by inserting suitable lessons about respect for public property in Social Studies textbooks used in schools.

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