The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed leaders of Jat agitators in Haryana, who are spearheading the agitation for reservation in government jobs, to exclude the blockage of train tracks as part of their agitation with immediate effect.
The division bench comprising chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice KS Ahluwalia passed the directions during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation, on Thursday.
However, the bench also stated that it would be open for Jat community to continue their agitation, if they so desire, in any other peaceful, legitimate and non-violent manner. "…the different agitating groups who may have a right to agitate for the redress of their just grievances have to limit the modes of agitation within the parameter of law, without adversely affecting national interest," held the bench.
The bench also issued directions that the respondent Jat leaders namely Daljit Singh Panghal, district president of Akhil Bhartiya Jat Sangarsh Samiti, Hisar, Rajeev Saharawat and Ram Bhagat Singh would be served the copies of court orders through the concerned district magistrate/deputy commissioner.
It was also ordered that state home secretary Samir Mathur and DGP Ranjiv Dalal, who were present in the court, would ensure further transmission of court's orders to the concerned authorities.
It is primarily for the executive arm to take decisions as to how such situation can be handled and not by the courts as maintenance of law and order is function of the state, held the bench. However, the bench stated, the court cannot remain a mute spectator particularly in the context of the situation as brought to the notice of the court by Lt Col (retd) PJS Mehta, chairman of the petitioner NGO.
"Unaffected and unobstructed train throughout the length and breadth of the country is in national interest," stated the bench. The court also observed through various records put before it that ongoing agitation has caused large scale disruption of the train movements including the route between Delhi-Chandigarh, resulting into large scale loss of revenue and public inconvenience.
The public interest litigation filed by an NGO National Consumer Awareness Group Society, Chandigarh had sought directions to the state to take immediate steps for ensuring that railway tracks all over Haryana, blocked by the Jat agitators, may be opened for smooth movement of passenger as well as goods trains.
Earlier on March 22, high court had directed the Haryana government to inform the court about the steps taken to make the movement of trains unhindered, which have been obstructed by Jat agitators.The high court had also directed the state authorities to inform about the extent of success achieved after the action taken by various authorities and its results thereof.
However, in its reply submitted before the court on Thursday by KK Mishra, state IG Police, railways and commando stated, "All efforts have been made by the officers to persuade the protestors to clear the tracks, but all in vain." It was also stated that the maximum possible police force equipped with anti-riot equipment has been mobilized from various police and para military agencies.
It was further added that the agitation has found spontaneous support in the entire rural area of districts Hisar, Fatehabad, Jind, Bhiwani, Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Sonipat, Rewari and Narnaul.