No Manipur blockade rerun: Nariman

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NEW DELHI, December 15 (agencies): States affected by road and rail blockades may soon get some respite with solicitor general R F Nariman on Wednesday saying official forces would clear traffic in 24 hours.

At a time when a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya was analyzing the situation arising from fortnight-long rail blockades in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, advocate Prashant Bhushan told the court that Manipur faced a road blockade for 121 days which threw normal life out of gear and seriously damaged the land-locked state`s economy.

Nariman, whose assistance was sought by the bench during the last hearing, said once intelligence reports or information received otherwise indicates possible road or rail blockade agitation, the home secretary concerned must take immediate steps to clear traffic within 12 hours.

“If the said blockade is not removed within 12 hours for any reason, whatsoever, then under such circumstances, the home secretary of the state shall immediately request the Union home secretary to direct central forces or any other paramilitary force available at the command of the Centre to initiate desired preventive steps immediately to maintain or restore public order within 24 hours,” Nariman said.

“The home secretary of the state shall personally supervise the situation under the direct supervision and control of the home secretary to the government of India,” he added.

Nariman further said the district magistrate concerned should immediately assess the damage caused to public and private property by the agitators and “shall undertake appropriate legal proceedings to recover the quantified loss in the manner as if the same were arrears of the land revenue against the delinquent individually”.

Nariman said his suggestions would supplement the earlier directions of the apex court in dealing with destruction of public property. The court had passed those orders after receiving reports from two committees headed by noted lawyer Fali S Nariman and former apex court judge Justice K T Thomas.

But the bench asked the solicitor general how many times the authorities had invoked the 27-year-old law, the Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act, 1984, and slapped damages on protesters who indulged in vandalism.

The court asked senior advocate Colin Gonsalves and Bhushan to give their suggestions for consideration along with those put forth by Nariman to tackle situations arising from rail and road blockades.

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