Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday observed it would be directing banned outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) to deposit with the state government the over Rs 5 crore compensation sought by KSRTC for damages to its buses and reduction in services during the hartal on September 23.
The court also observed that it would be ordering that the outfit’s former state general secretary, Abdul Sathar, be made a party in all the criminal cases registered across the state in connection with the hartal related violence and property destruction, advocate Deepu Thankan, who appeared for KSRTC, said.
A division bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias C P also said it would be directing that none of the accused in the hartal-related violence cases be granted bail till they deposit the cost of the damages allegedly caused by them, advocate Thankan said.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), in its plea, has contended that the hartal was called without any advance notice which was a violation of the high court’s orders that flash hartals were illegal and seven days prior notice has to be given.
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Due to lack of an advance notice and the police assuring that law and order would be ensured, the corporation said it started its services as usual, the petition has said.
The hartal, unfortunately, turned violent resulting in smashing of windscreens and damage to seats of 58 buses, injuries to 10 employees and one passenger, the transport authority has claimed.
It has further claimed in its plea that while it was already in severe financial crisis, the repair cost of its buses, the loss due to their inoperability during repairs and the reduction in service on September 23 due to the hartal has caused it an overall pecuniary loss of Rs 5,06,21,382.
“It is submitted that the massive loss incurred by the KSRTC is liable to be recovered from the perpetrators as the same was a result of their highly illegal and terrorizing act against the hapless general public.
“The KSRTC is entitled to get its loss from those who called for the hartal and they cannot wash their hands from the responsibility of payment of damages to KSRTC,” it has said in the plea seeking directions to PFI to compensate the loss of over Rs 5 crore suffered by the corporation.
The high court on September 23 itself has initiated on its own a contempt of court case against PFI and Sathar, who had called the state-wide hartal and thereafter, allegedly absconded.
Sathar, had on Wednesday, issued a statement saying PFI has been disbanded in the wake of the Home Ministry’s decision to ban it.
He had issued the statement hours prior to his arrest on the same day.
Multi-agency teams, spearheaded by NIA, had last week carried out raids at 93 locations in 15 state across the country and arrested over 100 PFI leaders for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.
Kerala, where the PFI has some strong pockets, had accounted for the maximum number of 22 arrests.