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PIL filed before Kerala HC against Bharat Jodo Yatra

- September 20, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, September 20 (BPNS)

As the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) progresses in the state, it has met with an unexpected hurdle in the form of a plea. Public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed by a lawyer seeking direction from the Kerala High Court to regulate the Yatra for causing traffic problems. In his plea, advocate Vijayan K sought a direction to regulate the Yatra by permitting them to occupy half portion of the road and leaving the other half for the free movement of the vehicles and the public.

The BJY flagged off from Tamil Nadu on September 7 is led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and is a five-month long 3500 km long padayatra from Kanyakumari in the south of India to Srinagar in the north. According to Congress, it’s a movement against the neglect of people’s aspirations by the government. In its Kerala leg, BJY will cover seven districts over 450 km over 19 days, before it commences in Karnataka on October 1.

At the same time the petitioner alleged that as part of the Yatra, Rahul and those accompanying him are occupying the entire breadth of the public road and are causing great hardships to the people. He also pointed out that wherever the Yatra passes normal life comes to a grinding halt.

The Yatra in its current form violates the Kerala Public Ways (Restriction of Assemblies and Procession) Act 2011 highlighted the petitioner.

“Section 4 of the Act deals with the prohibition of obstruction on public ways. The Act also authorizes the District Police Chief to impose reasonable restrictions on the right of obstructed movement of the public along public ways,” the plea said.

It also stated that as per sub-section (1) of Section 4, “no person shall cause any obstruction by conducting any business or meeting or assembly or procession or demonstration on any public way or part therefore and sub-section 3 says that no demonstration or procession shall be conducted in such a manner that the entire carriageway or free flow of traffic is fully obstructed.

“The Yatra is violative of the said sections. An order directing the state and the police force to take necessary steps to realize the entire expenses incurred in every district for the deployment of police forces to cover the BJY is also being expected,” said the petitioner.