Agitators can’t hold the country to ransom: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday voiced concern over the damage to public property during agitations, saying the country cannot be held to ransom and that it will lay down parameters for fixing accountability for the losses.

A bench headed by justice JS Khehar said that it has decided to look into the issue of damage to public properties during agitations.

“We will lay down parameters for fixing accountabilities for the damage caused to public properties during agitations. You cannot burn the country’s or its citizens’ property.

“We must take a call on the issue and we would frame guidelines for taking action against people indulging in such acts,” the bench also comprising justice C Nagappan said.

It further said, “The country must know what are the consequences. No one can take the country to ransom during agitations.”

It also said, “Whether it is BJP or Congress or any other organisation, they must realise that they can be held accountable for the damage to the public property.”

The bench’s observatinon came while hearing a plea of Gujarat Pattidar leader Hardik Patel seeking quashing of FIR lodged against him.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said that Hardik Patel had challenged the FIR against him but a charge sheet has already been filed in the case.

“Now after FIR, the charge sheet has been filed and it cannot be tested in the Supreme Court,” Rohatgi said.

The bench said that the petitioner was more concerned about bail and not the charge sheet.

To this, Rohatgi replied that his bail applications are already pending before the sessions court.

The bench then said that it has decided to look into the larger issue of damage to public properties during agitations and posted the matter for hearing on Thursday.

The apex court had on January 14, asked the AG to assist it on the approach to be adopted in dealing with cases where public property has been damaged in large scale.

While hearing the appeal of quota stir leader Hardik Patel in a criminal case, the apex court had also directed Gujarat Police to provide him an English translation of its charge sheet filed in the case against him and others for allegedly instigating Patel community members to kill policemen.