Supreme Court of India has declared ‘Bandh’ as unconstitutional in several of its judgments. Here’s an abstract of one such judgment “Held High Court was right in its conclusion that there cannot be any right to call or enforce a `Bandh' which interferes with the exercise of fundamental freedoms of other citizens-Fundamental Rights of the people as a whole cannot be subservient to the claim of Fundamental Right of an individual or only a section of people-Distinction drawn by High Court between a `Bandh' and a call for general strike or `Hartal' is well made out-Held the impugned judgment does not call for any interference. CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal Nos. 7728-29 of 1997.” ‘Rasta-rokos’ or ‘bandhs’ are clear violation of Indian constitution.
According to Article 51A of Indian Constitution, the fundamental duties of Indian citizens include
“It shall be the duty of every citizen of India— (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem; (b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom; (c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; (d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so; (e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women; (f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; (g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compass ion for living creatures; (h) to develop the scientific temper , humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform; (i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence; (j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement. (k) **who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.
** Ins. by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002, s. 4 (which is yet not in force, date to be notified by the government)”
Now, if you read the forth duty, it says “to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so”. Here, an obvious question is… who would take a call on when to defend the country? Constitution of India, doesn’t explicitly names certain XYZ would be the person who would take this call. I believe, whenever some individual or organization announces ‘bandh’, it is the fundamental duty of Indian citizens to defend the nation by acting against the people who are imposing bandh. This is what our constitution says.
If you are among those who want to abide the constitution of India, then here are the things you can do. Whenever someone declares a bandh, carry a HD camera and record unlawful happenings. You can place the camera at the front glass while driving the vehicle through a Bandh area. In most of the cases, criminals are acquitted because of lack of evidence. Irrespective of whether you have been impacted by the unlawful act, submitting evidence (if you happen to have or witness an act of crime) is duty of responsible citizens. You can hand-over the video to any of the news channels anonymously. Or just upload the video on YouTube.
Also, in cases of emergency… You have the right to self-defend. According to Section 97, you can self-defend you property too. Property includes anything that is movable or immovable, therefore an automobile is an property and if it’s attacked you have right to defend it. If you want to know… to what extent you can do to defend yourself and property, then do read IPC section 100. In case you are wondering… say you are travelling and stuck in a unlawful Bandh… can you run-over your vehicle over the rioters to avoid physical harm? I ran several queries on Judgment Information System (http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/fsrgqry.aspx Yes, all Supreme Court Judgments are digitalized) to identify whether there has been cases where one has ran over people using a vehicle to self-protect but I haven’t found any. In any case, running over using a vehicle to self-protect is not a good idea unless you have enough evidence to overwhelmingly prove acute death threat in court. If I had a degree in Law, I would have a filed a PIL about this. I believe, citizens should be permitted to run over the rioters for escaping the riot zone.
Following are some of the Indian Penal Code sections that you need to know, in case of emergency.
Indian Penal Code: Section 149: Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object
“If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members or that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.”
Indian Penal Code: Section 150: Hiring, or conniving at hiring, of persons to join unlawful assembly
Whoever hires or engages, or employs, or promotes, or connives at the hiring, engagement or employment of any person to join or become a member or any unlawful assembly, shall be punishable as a member of such unlawful assembly, and for any offence which may be committed by any such person as a member of such unlawful assembly in pursuance of such hiring, engagement or employment, in the same manner as if he had been a member of such unlawful assembly, or himself had committed such offence.
Indian Penal Code: Section 151: Knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse
Whoever knowingly joins or continues in any assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace, after such assembly has been lawfully commanded to disperse, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.
Section 96. Things done in private defence
Nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of the right of private defence.
Indian Penal Code: Section 97: Right of private defense of the body and of property
Every person has a right, subject to the restrictions contained in section 99, to defend— First.— His own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body; Secondly.—The property, whether movable or immovable, of himself or of any other person, against any act which is an offence falling under the definition of theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass, or which is an attempt to commit theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass.
Indian Penal Code: Section 99. Act against which there is no right of private defense
There is no right of private defence against an act which does not reasonable cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt, if done, or attempted to be done, by a public servant acting in good faith under colour of his office, though that act, may not be strictly justifiable by law. There is no right of private defence against an act which does not reasonable cause the apprehension of death or of grievous hurt, if done, or attempted to be done, by the direction of a public servant acting in good faith under colour of his office, though that direction may not be strictly justifiable by law. There is no right of private defence in cases in which there is time to have recourse to the protection of the public authorities.
Extent to which the right may be exercised: The right to private defence in no case extends to the inflicting of more harm that it is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defence. Explanation 1: A person is not deprived of the right of private defence against an act done, or attempted to be done, by a public servant, as such, unless he knows or has reason to believe, that the person doing the act is such public servant. Explanation 2: A person is not deprived of the right of private defence against an act done, or attempted to be done, by the direction of a public servant, unless he knows, or has reason to believe, that the person doing the act is acting by such direction, or unless such person states the authority under which he acts, or if he has authority in writing, unless he produces such authority, if demanded.
Indian Penal Code: Section 100: When the right of private defense of the body extends to causing death
The right of private defence of the body extends, under the restrictions mentioned in the last preceding section, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the assailant, if the offence which occasions the exercise of the right be of any of the descriptions hereinafter enumerated, namely:— First.— Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that death will otherwise be the consequence of such assault; Secondly.—Such an assault as may reasonably cause the apprehension that grievous hurt will otherwise be the consequence of such assault; Thirdly.— An assault with the intention of committing rape; Fourthly.—An assault with the intention of gratifying unnatural lust; Fifthly.— An assault with the intention of kidnapping or abducting; Sixthly.— An assault with the intention of wrongfully confining a person, under circumstances which may reasonably cause him to apprehend that he will be unable to have recourse to the public authorities for his release.
Indian Penal Code: Section 103: When the right of private defence of property extends to causing death
The right of private defence of property extends, under the restrictions mentioned in section 99, to the voluntary causing of death or of any other harm to the wrong-doer, if the offence, the committing of which, or the attempting to commit which, occasions the exercise of the right, be an offence of any of the descriptions hereinafter enumerated, namely:— First.— Robbery; Secondly.—House-breaking by night; Thirdly.— Mischief by fire committed on any building, tent or vessel, which building, tent or vessel is used as a human dwelling, or as a place for the custody of property; Fourthly.—Theft, mischief, or house-trespass, under such circumstances as may reasonably cause apprehension that death or grievous hurt will be the consequence, if such right of private defence is not exercised.