The Punjab & Haryana High Court on Tuesday sought the response of the Central and Punjab governments on a plea filed by a storage company seeking to relocate or remove the protesting farmers who have occupied its warehouse at Patiala, which is debarring the petitioner from carrying on its business (SM Logistics and Warehousing Co. Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India).
A single judge bench of Justice Lisa Gill was hearing a petition filed by a Patiala based warehousing and storage company, SM Logistics and Warehousing co alleging that protesters, who are agitating against the recently passed farm laws, have “locked storage facility” thereby, debarring the petitioner from carrying on its business.
This, the petitioner contended, was causing perishable goods from Adani Wilmar Ltd. and Capital Foods Private Limited stored in the warehouse, to get wasted.
During the course of hearing on Tuesday, the State counsel informed the Court that she will get the issue resolved within a few days.
The Court said that in case the matter is not resolved at the district level then higher officials may be involved to resolve the issue accordingly.
It, therefore, proceeded to issue notice to the Central and Punjab government and posted the case for further hearing next week.
The petitioner contended that the company is suffering a loss of more than crores per day due to facility being locked. The storehouse of the petitioner is used for storing the goods of three companies namely, Adani Wilmar Ltd, Capital Food Pvt. Ltd. and Technova Imaging Systems Pvt. Ltd.
“For the two companies namely Adani and Capital Foods, perishable goods that are worth about rupees 15 Crores are stored in the place of business, for the company namely Technova Raw material worth about rupees 7 Crores for the printing of newspaper is stored which is temperature-controlled and the Petitioner has not been able to access its place of business since 19.02.2021,” the petition said.
While praying for directions to remove, relocate protesters from the site, the petitioner company stated that the court may consider setting an “example by directing the Respondents to come down heavily on anarchists masquerading as protesters, while at the same time upholding bonafide citizens’ right to protest in accordance with Constitutional values”.
It was the petitioner’s argument that the protesters are restricting the company from carrying the daily course of business, which is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Indian Constitution.
The petition also said that some members of the Bhartya Kisan Union had appeared at the gate of petitioner’s warehouse and illegally locked the warehouse by putting their own lock.
“Such an illegality perpetrated in the name of protest against the recently enacted farm laws cannot be continued even for a day and with every passing day, it is not just that the fundamental right guaranteed to the Petitioner is being violated but a huge loss is being caused to the Petitioner,” it was contended.
The petitioner also said that a series of letters were written to the respondents State and the local authorities requesting them for assistance, to remove the protesting farmers, but there was no response to the same.
Previously, the petitioner had moved the plea before the Supreme Court, but the same was not entertained. A Bench led by Justice UU Lalit had instead granted liberty to the company to file the petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court pursuant to which the present petition was filed.
The case will now be heard on March 23.
Advocate Siddharth Batra and Abhinav Sood appeared for the petitioners while Assistant Advocate General, Diya Sodhil represented the State.