No Licence To Harass People At Large: High Court Orders Clearance Of Roads Blocked By Protesting Haryana Sarpanches
The Punjab and Haryana High Court in an appeal filed by two petitioners being Dental Surgeon and Advocate has recently ordered the clearance of roads at the border of Panchkula and Chandigarh which was jammed by the Sarpanches of Haryana as a result of which a large number of personnel were deployed and barricades were set up.
The Haryana Police on March 1 i.e., Wednesday had lathi-charged the village sarpanches who gathered to protest the State Government’s e-tender policy and marched towards Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Vikram Aggarwal directed, “Permitting law to be taken in hand by a few people is not acceptable. … We, therefore, are forced to pass an order that the respondent authorities shall see to it that the road is cleared of all blockades and obstructions so that there is no impediment or difficulty in movement of the traffic on any of the roads leading to Chandigarh from Panchkula and vice-versa. We leave it open to the respondents to take steps as permissible in law for removal of the illegal occupants of the road.”
The Bench further directed that the said clearance of the road should come into effect by 10 p.m. on the same day i.e., March 4 (Saturday).
Advocate Vishal Garg appeared on behalf of the petitioners while AAG Deepak Sabherwal and Advocate Abhinav Sood appeared on behalf of the respondents.
Brief Facts –
A writ petition was filed by two residents of District Panchkula highlighting the aspect of inconvenience being caused to the daily commuters from Panchkula to Chandigarh because of a ‘Dharna’ (protest) being pitched on the main road. It was pointed out in the said petition that the road blockade was not only causing an inconvenience to the residents but creating a lot of problems for the plying of ambulances, school buses, and other vehicles apart from finding difficult for even the pedestrian to move from one place to the other.
It was further contended by the petitioners that because of such a blockade, there was an extra rush on the other ancillary and capillary roads connecting Panchkula with Chandigarh and most of the people commuting to work on a daily basis were facing many difficulties. On March 1, members of the Haryana Sarpanch Association, a body representing the village heads announced that they would gherao CM’s residence.
The High Court in view of the above facts said, “… when associations and organizations and even people at large get together to block any public road, Administration should take immediate steps to not let such a thing to happen which in our considered view, the authorities, in the present case, have failed to take note of leading to the situation which we are faced with. Protest by the unions/associations or people is permitted but at the places which have been earmarked for the same. This does not give them a licence to put the general public to inconvenience and cause not only difficulty for the people at large but virtually harassing them in a way leading to putting pressure and forcing the Government to accept their demands.”
The Court observed that each citizen has a right to commute and especially when they are going to perform their duties, whether it be students who are studying, doctors going to hospitals/clinics, teachers going to schools/colleges, and even Government employees going to the offices to perform their duties as have been cast upon them in accordance with the law.
“If the undertaking as has been given by the Haryana Sarpanches Association is accepted, that would virtually be giving free hand to them to continue blocking one side of the road which cannot be permitted”, asserted the Court.
The Court, therefore, said that the compliance report shall be submitted to the Court on March 6. Accordingly, the Court issued necessary directions.
Cause Title- Neetu Bajaj & Anr. v. State of Haryana & Ors.
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