Will withdraw prohibitory orders on 8 Barsu farmers, state tells HC
The Bombay high court heard a case on Thursday in which eight villagers in Ratnagiri district were restrained from entering Rajapur taluka and posting content on social media about a proposed refinery. The state government has since assured the court that it will withdraw the prohibitory orders.
The state government on Thursday assured the Bombay high court that it would soon withdraw the prohibitory orders which restrained eight Barsu villagers in Ratnagiri district from entering Rajapur taluka till May 31 and from posting any content on social media about the proposed refinery.
The eight residents, who are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, have been holding protests, for some time, against the refinery project in Rajapur’s Barsu and Solgaon villages. After the state issued gag orders on April 22 and April 25 barring their entry into the taluka for more than a month, the farmers approached the HC.
On Thursday, the state filed its response to their petition before a division bench of justice Revati Mohite Dere and justice Sharmila Deshmukh.
Advocate Swaraj Jadhav, appearing for the petitioners, told the bench that the orders had been issued under section 144 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and those found violating the orders would be liable for prosecution under section 188 (for disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. This, Jadhav said, was excessive in nature and violated the rights of the petitioners guaranteed under articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution.
The orders had also banned posts, pictures, and videos on social media about the proposed refinery, as it may cause confusion and incite a law-and-order situation, the petitioners’ counsel said and added that the residents were not given a hearing before the orders were passed.
After the state informed the bench that it would soon withdraw the two orders, the latter disposed of the petition.
In October 2019, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation notified that the state government would be acquiring 2,300 acres at Barsu and Solgaon. The refinery project is a ₹1 lakh-crore joint venture between the three public sector oil companies and the Saudi behemoth, Aramco.