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Bandhs: SC pulls up government for inaction

July 03, 2008 19:25 IST

On a day of bandh on the Amarnath yatra issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday flayed the executive for showing "helplessness" in acting against those holding the country to "ransom."

The apex court's observations were not related to the BJP-sponsored countrywide bandh but came during a hearing on a petition relating to the recent blockade of a National Highway in West Bengal by agitators demanding a separate Gorkhaland.

"You (state) all rest and do nothing. Those who are required to act according to the Constitution are party to it. Those who have the muscle power can hold the country to

ransom," it observed, while voicing its dismay over frequent strikes and road blockades in the country.

"The entire life comes to standstill. Movement of medicine, fuel and everything gets affected and the state expresses its helplessness. This cannot be allowed," a Bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir said.

The bench, which was hearing the petitions relating to the recent blockade of National Highway 31A, was surprised that in such type of crisis the authorities were shirking from their responsibility and leaving it to the judiciary to handle the situation.

The highway, which is the lone road linking Sikkim to the rest of the world, was blocked by agitators demanding a separate Gorkhaland.

The court also took the opportunity to sarcastically suggest how courts are often accused of interference and judicial overreach when they pass orders on matters of public importance which the state is obliged to do by itself.

"They (states) leave their responsibilities to courts. The court has to pass order which the state should do by itself. Then it is said there is interference and judicial overreach," the Bench said while directing the Centre, governments of West Bengal and Sikkim to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the NH 31A.

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