Farmers to protest today, HC says not without DM consent

Chandigarh, November 15: A day before farmers’ protest on the Phagwara-Jalandhar stretch of National Highway-I, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled that any dharna or agitation without the approval of Kapurthala District Magistrate (DM) would not “satisfy the test of being legal”.


The Bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice Amit Rawal also directed that the state would ensure strict compliance of Section 144 CrPC prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons, if the dharna or agitation took place on November 15.
The direction came on a petition filed in public interest against the Union Government and other respondents by ArriveSafe of Chandigarh through its president Harman Singh Sidhu. Petitioner’s counsel Ravi Kamal Gupta submitted that the protest was scheduled to be held on November 15 at Chaheru Bridge on the GT Road, NH-1, in Phagwara.

Gupta added that the state, as such, should be directed to provide security to the residents of Kapurthala and Jalandhar district, while preventing any snarl-up on the NH-1. He also prayed for directions to the DC/DM concerned to allow an alternative site for holding a peaceful agitation. Gupta also prayed that internet services within Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts, too, should to be suspended for two days.

Responding to the prayers, Punjab Advocate-General Atul Nanda assured the court that concrete decision on the petitioner’s request on suspension of internet services for two days in the two districts would be taken by the state government shortly.
Nanda also assured the court that if the unions demanded an alternative site from Kapurthala DM, it would be considered sympathetically. Nanda added that Kapurthala and Jalandhar DMs had already passed the orders under Section 144 of the CrPC.
Sidhu had earlier stated that information available to him suggested that a gathering of approximately 50,000 people/farmers would try to stop the Delhi-Lahore bus service on November 15. The protesters also intended to block traffic at Chaheru Bridge in support of certain demands, including payment of Rs 76 crore arrears from 2016 onwards and increase in SAP for sugarcane from Rs 300 per quintal to Rs 350 per quintal.

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