After about three decades, Chandigarh has ceased to be a disturbed area with the Punjab and Haryana High Court holding that the notification declaring the Union Territory disturbed has ceased to have any relevance in the present times.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a division bench of the court comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on Wednesday minced no words in holding that the Chandigarh administration had failed to justify the relevance of such notifications in present times, particularly when no terror incident had been reported in the city for the past many years.
The court also observed that chances were that the tag was acting as a deterrent for tourists. So many of them would obviously be reluctant to visit the city after finding it labelled on the internet as a disturbed area, the bench held.
The development assumes significance as the Chandigarh administration just about three days back, made clear its intention of not withdrawing the notification declaring Chandigarh a disturbed area.
The disturbed area tag was given to Chandigarh in 1983 during the dark days of militancy in Punjab to give special powers to the Administration, police and security forces for effectively dealing with the militancy between 1981 and 1992.
Punjab had given up the title in 1997, nearly two decades after militancy was wiped out from the state, Chandigarh refused to let go the "disturbed" status.
With the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashing the Chandigarh disturbed area notification, officials of the UT administration and police are set to lose the extra security cover, allowances and perks.
Meanwhile, UT Administrator Shivraj V Patil, while reacting on the court directive, said that the Administration had to follow the direction.
"The tag had been retained for some specific reasons. There have been intelligence reports regarding infiltration from border areas. If anything untoward happens in the future, who will be responsible for it," he had said.
UT Home Secretary Anil Kumar said that the Administration will analyse the judgement and then hold a meeting to decide the future course of action.
Petitioner Surinder Bhardwaj had contended that the disturbed area tag was a hurdle for the tourism industry.