Court jolt to ANSAM blockade; HC asks Centre and State Govt to check economic blockade
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 27: Acting on a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of the Gauhati High Court, Imphal has today asked the Centre and the State Government to take up all necessary measures under the law to stop the economic blockade imposed by the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur for more than a month now.

Justices MBK Singh and TNK Singh issued the directives following a PIL filed by N Mohon Singh, president of the United Development Association, Khangabok and two office bearers of the Association.

Significantly, Khangabok in Thoubal district is the home Constituency of Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh.

Referring to a number of news items which appeared in the National dailies and State dailies, the PIL said that ANSAM has been imposing the indefinite economic blockade for more than a month now to protest the decision of the State Government to declare June 18 as State Integrity day and State holiday.

The PIL also mentioned the dismantling of the Irang bridge on NH-53 by ANSAM volunteers to intensify its stir.

Any action in the guise of demanding some claim by any organisation that deprives the public of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution is illegal and unconstitutional, contended the PIL.

The PIL further said that a large number of organisations have come out against the economic blockade and lamented that the Centre and the State Government have not been able to do anything to check the economic blockade.

The petitioners also recalled the recent verdict of the Kerala High Court which ruled that bandhs called by any political party or organisations to demand anything amounts to deprivation of the fundamental rights of the people and is thus unconstitutional.

The Kerala High Court ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

Stating that it is the responsibility of the Centre to protect the highways, the PIL said that National Highway Protection Force should be provided as per the National Highway Act, 1956.The Centre also has Constitutional obligations to protect the citizens of the land by invoking the relevant provisions of law.

After hearing the PIL, the Court observed that due to the economic blockade, there is no longer any free trade along the highways.

�We are also convinced that consequent upon the said indefinite blockade, lives and livelihood of large sections of the people residing in the State are jeopardized apart from causing insurmountable hardships and inconveniences to all sections of the people in the State,� the Court observed.

�We are of the opinion that imposition of the indefinite blockade along the said two lifelines of the State is unconstitutional and illegal,� added the Court.

The Court also asked its registry to convey to the respondents to reply within one month time.

The listed respondents in the case include the president of ANSAM, Paul Langhu, vice president Ngachonmi Chamroy and the State represented by the Chief Secretary, DGP and other senior police officers as well as the Union of India represented by the Home Secretary.