High Court raps authorities for delay in addressing Mohali blockade : The Tribune India

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High Court raps authorities for delay in addressing Mohali blockade

Says Punjab Government, UT Admn dragging their feet over issue

High Court raps authorities for delay in addressing Mohali blockade

Activists of the Qaumi insaaf Morcha stage a protest near the YPS chowk in Mohali. File



Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, April 11

A year after a non-government organisation filed a PIL seeking the removal of encroachments by the Qaumi Insaaf Morcha protesters in Mohali, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has rapped the State of Punjab and the Union Territory of Chandigarh for dragging feet for the reasons best known to them.

“Only on account of the fact that some of the protesters have been hiding behind a shield of religious legitimacy by placing Guru Granth Sahib would not as such give the State reason not to act against the persons concerned, who are misusing the religious sentiments,” the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Lapita Banerji asserted.

In its detailed order, the Bench asserted neither the State of Punjab nor the Union Territory of Chandigarh had been able to redress the issues of commuters of Chandigarh and Mohali despite repeated opportunities. The misery was continuing and inconvenience was being caused to the commuters and the tricity residents as a “handful of persons were sitting and blocking the road”.

The Union of India was also made a party in October last year and the Punjab Director-General of Police was also summoned almost one year back. “It is also apparent from the photographs placed on record that there is no large gathering. In spite of the fact that it is well-known that all agitators from the rural background are busy in harvesting and it is most opportune time to remove the blockage of the road, the State of Punjab and the Union Territory are dragging their feet… Resultantly, we defer the proceedings for April 18, hoping that the State of Punjab and the Union Territory, Chandigarh, will wake up from their slumber…..” the Bench added.

The court was hearing a petition by Arrive Safe Society of Chandigarh. Among other things, the petitioner had contended it was learnt that the protesters were seeking the release of Sikh prisoners, including Balwant Singh Rajoana –– a convict in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination case. They also wanted the release of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar –– a 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict. The organisation, through its president Harman Singh Sidhu, had initially submitted nobody could be certain when and under what circumstances such a large gathering of persons might turn violent and the protest might take “shape of a lawless mob disturbing peace and harmony of innocent passersby, those engaged in their daily pursuits or those residing in their property in Mohali and nearby areas”. Describing it as a “crucial issue”, Sidhu had added it required the High Court’s timely intervention “at a pre-emptive stage”.

What court observed

“Only on account of the fact that some of the protesters have been hiding behind a shield of religious legitimacy by placing Guru Granth Sahib would not as such give the State reason not to act against the persons concerned, who are misusing the religious sentiments,” the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Lapita Banerji asserted.

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