Pradeep Singh

Hearing a petition against tomorrow’s proposed 'Odisha bandh' call announced by Congress, the Orissa High Court on Thursday ruled that a bandh could not be enforced on citizens.

A Cuttack-based businessman had filed the petition against the Congress' bandh call on November 12. Hearing the petition, the HC said bandh is not permitted, but if the party wants, it can organise a hartal. 

The Court further ruled:

- Agitators can't block roads

- Can't stop vehicular movement 

- Can't close any establishment forcefully

- Can't stop railway services

The HC said that as per the Supreme Court ruling, a bandh could not be enforced as it would affect the fundamental rights of the citizens, apart from causing losses in many ways.

Advocate Soumya Mohanty, who appeared for the petitioner, said, "Today, petitioner Naresh Kumar Mishra heard about the announcement that on Friday a bandh will be observed by Congress, and, therefore, everyone will have to shut their business establishments voluntarily or under force. Protesting the same, Mishra filed a petition today. Taking into account the gravity of the matter, the Court took up the petition for hearing and issued notices to the respondents."

"In response, the Congress assured that they will observe a peaceful bandh. However, the HC told them that they can't go for the bandh, can't disrupt normal life, can't shut any business establishments or stop any vehicular movement like road, rail & flights," said Mohanty.

The Court further told Congress that since they have the right to protest, they can do it but in a peaceful manner without any bandh and without forcing anyone, Mohanty added.

Meanwhile, following the HC directive, Congress leader Satya Nayak clarified on the party's Odisha bandh call and said, "We have called for a peaceful protest. We have never imposed this shutdown on anyone. Our senior leader Chiranjib Biswal apprised this to the Court."

BJD leader Sasmit Patra termed the bandh call of Congress as unfortunate and alleged, "Congress is in deep financial crisis, hence has joined hands with the BJP. The party (Congress) is dancing to the BJP's tunes."