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Publication: The Times Of India - Chennai; Date:2009 Feb 17; Section:Times Nation;
Page Number 8

Strikes cannot be equated with bandhs,
hartals: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to equate ‘strike’ calls given by political
parties and labour unions with ‘bandhs’ and ‘hartals’, the latter two being already banned
since 1997 by judicial fiats. “Strikes are not prohibited under any law or court order,” said a
Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam refusing to
entertain a PIL, which alleged that strike, bandh and hartal all have identical effect on the
common people deterring them from going about their normal daily work schedule.
But, the Bench did not forget to take potshots at media reporting of its observation during
the last hearing, when the PIL had sought banning of a strike call given by a group
sympathising with the Tamils in Sri Lanka and protesting against the death of innocent
Tamils caught in the cross-fire between LTTE and Lankan forces.When counsel Ajit
Pudussery had on February 3 said the bandh call given by an umbrella organisation of
political parties – Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement – would surely breach the apex
court’s order approving the Kerala HC’s 1997 judgment banning bandhs and hartals, the CJI
had reacted sharply: “What has this court to do with stopping strikes? India is a democratic
state where everyone has a right to express their feelings.”
When Puduserry attempted the same argument again on Monday, the petitioner was
chided by the Bench for going to the press and trying to get some cheap publicity.
Objecting to the manner in which reports were written on the basis of the Bench’s
observations, the CJI said: “Why did you go to the press, which even wrote editorials.”
The Kerala HC judgment had said: “No political party or organisation can claim that it is
entitled to paralyse industry and commerce in the entire state or nation and is entitled to
prevent the citizens not in sympathy with its viewpoint from exercising their fundamental
right or from performing their duties for their own benefits or for the benefit of the state or
the nation.”
“Such a claim would be unreasonable and could not be accepted as a legitimate exercise
of a fundamental right by a political party or those comprising it,” the HC had said getting
thunderous applause from millions across the country. 17/02/2009