On 5/7/2010 there was Bharat Bandh. Parties belonging to Left Front, NDA and some others had called for bandh. The bandh was in protest against rise in prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG. Many leaders courted arrest. Buses were damaged.
The bandh was supposed to be for the common man of India. Bandhs disrupt life and do not benefit common man. There is loss of dayâ€™s work. People who had to travel long distance by bus, car, train or plane suffer. Some book tickets months in advance. Many people do not get medical attention and sometimes people die.
Parties should protest differently. They can go on an indefinite fast or one day fast. They can demonstrate in front of secretariats or ministersâ€™ houses. Bandhs are not the way to protest.
Bandhs are bad when opposition parties call for them. They are worse when state governments enforce them. They fail in their duty and act unconstitutionally.
Parties claim they get support from people. Shopkeepers shut shops because there will be stone throwing.
Some years back Bombay High Court fined two parties 20 lakh rupees each for Maharashtra Bandh. It is time somebody moves Supreme Court for fining parties for Bharat Bandh and the fine should be in crores.
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Kerala High Court in 1997 rightly declared that bandhs are unconstitutional and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of Kerala High Court. Whether the decision was one paragraph or ten pages is immaterial.
Bombay High Court fined BJP and Shiv Sena Rs.20 lakhs each for calling a bandh. After that they did not call for a bandh though there was one unofficial bandh by Shiv Sena in July 2006.
No democracy has any duty to encourage protest in all its forms. Protest is allowed subject to reasonable restrictions. Bandhs violate fundamental, constitutional and natural rights. Anything that goes against the rights of people can be forbidden by the Supreme Court. There is no need for a law. Right cases give rise to right laws leading to rule of law.
Bandhs are different from strikes. In a strike people stop working. In a bandh other people are prevented from working, travelling, keeping schools, colleges, shops, theatres etc open. Bandhs are successful only if there is violence or fear of violence. Bandhs cannot be tolerated in a democracy. Where bands disrupt normal life it is mobocracy.
People have lost their lives due to bandhs. One person had appendicitis. He could not go to a doctor as he could not get a taxi due to bandh and died. Jackie Shroff lost his mother due to a bandh. Shiv Sena had called the bandh. Due to that Jackie Shroff could not take his mother to doctor immediately. He knew Raj Thackeray who at that time was in Shiv Sena. This helped Jackie Shroff to take his mother to doctor but she died. There are many cases like that which go unreported.
People who have to travel long distance book their tickets in advance. They have to travel on a particular day. When there is bandh their inconvenience is great. They are unable to reach bus stations, railway stations and airports. It is difficult to get tickets for the next day. Some miss important events in the family.
DMKâ€™s calling for bandh was wrong for two reasons. First, bandhs are wrong. Second, DMK rules Tamil Nadu and part of UPA which rules Centre. Its duty was to maintain law and order. Bandhs are against law and order. Against whom was DMKâ€™s protest? If it is not happy with UPA it should quit UPA. The chief minister should be in his office and should not abdicate his responsibility by sitting on hunger strike.
If there is constitutional breakdown the Supreme Court has a duty to say so. It cannot be a mute spectator.
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