GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court has issued a set of directives to the Assam Police to take prompt action against organizations calling bandhs leading to loss of life or injury or property etc. The High Court has also asked the State Government to constitute a Bandh Loss Compensation Fund (BLCF) within three months so as to make organizations calling bandhs to cough up the loss they cause by calling such bandhs.
All these guidelines came on March 19, 2019 in the form of directives from the High Court that gave its order in the WP(C) 7570/13 petition filed by Lower Assam Inter-District Stage Carriage Bus Owners’ Association, Goalpara.
The directives have made it clear that road blockades and rail blockades should also be treated as bandhs.
Asking to the police to take prompt action, the High Court bench said that the first information regarding a bandh shall be lodged by the Commissioner of Police, Guwahati or any of his subordinate officer he/she may authorize before the police station within 24 hours of such bandhs/bloackades. The Commissioner of Police shall inform the Commissioner and Secretary of the State Home and Political Department within three to seven days of lodging the first information with case details. In case of such bandhs/blockades covere more than one district, the superintendents of police concerned shall have to lodge the first information and inform the Commissioner and Secretary of the State Home and Political Department of this information within three to seven days of lodging of first information. This apart, the investigating officer has to file charge-sheets before the competent criminal court promptly so as ensure that the offender can be tried in a fast-track mode. The court entrusted the Assam Police Accountability Commission to monitor such cases and submit reports to the High Court’s judicial registrar once in every three months.
Upon receiving information from the Commissioner of Police or SPs, the Home and Political Department Commissioner and Secretary shall file contempt petition(s) against organizers and main office-bearers of organizations calling bandhs/blockades before the High Court.
The High Court further said that the Home and Political Department would have to constitute a Bandh Loss Compensation Fund to be managed by an authority headed by a retired district and session judge within three months of issuance of this order. The authority of the fund is to assess the quantum of loss that would be recovered from the organizers of bandh and be deposited in the compensation fund. The single bench comprises Justice Ujjal Bhuyan.
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