No Strike Can Be Called Without A Week’s Notice: Kerala High Court

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It directed the state government to file a counter affidavit within three weeks. (File)


Amid protests over the Sabarimala issue, the Kerala High Court on Monday said no strike can be called in the state without prior notice of at least seven days.

The court made the comment while hearing a petition moved by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Thrissur-based NGO ''Malayala vedi against hartals'' against shutdowns in the state.

Condemning the practice of calling flash strikes, a division bench of Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar observed if prior notice is not given, people can approach the court and government can take adequate measures to deal with the situation.

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Organisations and individuals, who call for hartal, shall be responsible for loss and damages caused on account of the shutdown, the court said.

It added that in the absence of adequate enactments, hartals have become a continuous process. Such flash hartals would affect the state''s economy as well as the country''s tourism prospects.

The bench said though right to protest exist, that shall not affect the citizens' fundamental rights.

It directed the state government to file a counter affidavit within three weeks.

In their petition, the chamber alleged that Kerala witnessed 97 strikes in 2018, which affected business and livelihood of people leading to huge economic loss.

The petitioners also sought police protection for shops and commercial establishments during such shutdowns.

In December, over 35 trade organisations came together against rampant strike calls by various political parties in the state and decided to observe 2019 as an ''anti-hartal year''.

On Thursday, a dawn-to-dusk strike called by pro-Hindutva groups plunged the state into turmoil. The shutdown was called to protest the entry of women of menstruating age into the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.

Subsequently, violence involving BJP-RSS and ruling CPI(M) rocked parts of Kerala, particularly Kannur district, with several houses and shops of rival leaders and workers being attacked.

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