The Madras High Court today heard the Public Interest Litigation filed by one VR. Vengatesh against the bandh allegedly proposed by BJP on October 31, 2022 in Coimbatore over the blast that took place in the city.

The Petitioner had claimed in his Petition that the political party and its functionaries in the city have called for a Bandh on October 31, to condemn the attitude of the State Government in handling the "LPG Gas Cylinder explosion case" and such a Bandh/Strike is illegal and unconstitutional.

Further, it was also averred that the senior BJP leaders and former Parliamentarians have been issuing statements to the press calling for support from the local people to enforce a complete bandh at Coimbatore on October 31.

The Petitioner had claimed that the party functionaries in Coimbatore District are insisting and pressurizing Traders, Industrialists, Educational institutions, Hospitals, and other common public to shut down all activities on October 31 in deference to their call for bandh and have also been threatening small time traders and shop owners and vendors in the market to close down all shops to vindicate their political vendata.

The Division Bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy while hearing the submissions of Senior Counsel V. Prakash appearing for the Petitioner observed that the maintenance of law and order is the constitutional duty of the State, however, no interim orders were passed by the Bench.

The Bench recorded the oral statement of Advocate RC Paul Kanagaraj who is the State Vice President of BJP that Shri Annamalai or the State BJP has not given any call for the bandh so far.

In the blast, one Mr. Jameesha Mubin was killed in front of a temple at Kottaimedu in Coimbatore on October 23. The search conducted by the Investigation Agency led to the recovery of explosive materials. The Coimbatore City Police has registered a case against six persons and arrested them under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

Taking into consideration of gravity of offence, the State Government has taken a decision to create an exclusive wing in the Police Force to prevent such incidents in the future.

The Petitioner in this context highlighted that the Tamil Nadu Government has conducted a high-level meeting chaired by the Hon'ble Chief Minister and decided to make a recommendation to the Union Government to transfer the investigation into the Coimbatore Car explosion case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 26 by considering the possibility of disturbance in public tranquillity.

The Petitioner further also stated, "The investigation commenced by the National Investigation Agency is at full throttle. The State Government has also taken all preventive measures to protect Public tranquillity and law and order in entire Coimbatore District"

The Petitioner had also averred in the Petition, "The 5ft Respondent and his party functionaries have no right to cause any inconvenience to the common man by calling bandh or strike. No political party or organisation is entitled to paralyse industry and commerce in the coimbatore District under the guise of enforcing bandh. The normal life of citizens cannot be jeopardised by the political parties by issuing bandh call for their political vendata. I apprehend that the enforcement of illegal bandh would pose risk to life, liberty and property of any citizen or destruction of life and property' It is submitted that the Hon'ble Supreme court of India time and again has held that calling for bandh/ Strike by organisations or any political parties is unconstitutional and illegal which causes greater inconvenience to a common man."

The Petitioner had also averred that neither the party nor its functionaries have a right to cause any inconvenience to the common man by calling bandh or strike.

Further, it was also submitted –

"No political party or organisation is entitled to paralyse industry and commerce in the coimbatore District under the guise of enforcing bandh."

The Petitioner averred that the State Government has already made a recommendation to the Union Government to transfer investigation to the MA considering the possibility of chances of disturbance in public tranquillity and to prevent any untoward incident. The Central Government has immediately swung into action and issued necessary orders to the NIA to take over the investigation from the State

The Petitioner had thus prayed before the Court to grant an interim injunction restraining BJP and its party functionaries or leaders from enforcing the Bandh on October 31 or any other date in the district.

The case has further been posted on November 1, 2022, for further hearing.

Cause Title - VR. Vengatesh v. The Secretary to Govemment & Ors.