Kerala HC seeks State Attorney’s reply on contempt petition of Adani Ports

On September 1, the court held that the right to protest does not grant the right to obstruct a legally permitted project - the upcoming Vizhinjam Port.

Thiruvathapuram: The Kerala High Court on Thursday asked the State Attorney to respond to Adani Port’s contempt petition against the state government for failing to provide security for the construction of the upcoming Vizhinjam Port.

On September 1, the court held that the right to protest does not grant the right to obstruct a legally permitted project – the upcoming Vizhinjam Port.

It then ordered police protection for the workers and other officials of Adani Ports engaged in the construction of Vizhinjam port.

While giving an interim order, Justice Anu Sivaraman had pointed out: “I have no doubt in my mind that the right to agitate or protest any matter, including the apathy or neglect of the government, cannot confer any right to any of the protesters, to contend that they have the right to obstruct the activities which have due permissions or to trespass into the construction site and cause damage to public property…This Court has time and again considered the issue of competing interests in the grant of police protection and has held that a right to protest can only mean a right to protest peacefully and that there can be no right to obstruct a legally permitted project or activity in the guise of a protest, whatever be the reason for the protest.”

But the resistance and the protests continued and work was unable to be resumed forcing the Adani Ports to approach the court with a contempt petition, read the interim judgment.

On Thursday, the court asked the State Attorney about this and he sought time to file the reply. The court then posted the case for Tuesday.

The petition was moved by Adani Ports and by its contracting partner Howe Engineering Projects.

Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt. Ltd. was selected as the concessionaire for the Vizhinjam Seaport Project and construction began on December 5, 2015.

However, the project has been opposed by the fishermen community which, under the leadership of the Catholic Archdiocese of Trivandrum, are demanding, among other things, proper environmental impact studies, rehabilitation of families who lost their homes to coastal erosion and repairing coastal damage.

The petitioners pointed out that the protesters have been blocking the entry and exit points to the construction site and that on some occasions, thousands of protesters actually managed to enter the site which is a high security zone.

They submitted that all construction work has been stalled since August 17 due to the protests.

According to the petitioners, the environmental clearance for the project was granted in 2014, before Adani Ports entered the fray, after several environmental studies were conducted.


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