Allahabad High Court orders UP govt to immediately remove hoardings naming accused in anti-CAA protests, calls it 'unwarranted interference'

The Allahabad High Court has ordered the Uttar Pradesh Police to remove hoardings displaying photographs of those accused of destroying public property during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests held in the state in December last year

FP Staff March 09, 2020 14:38:24 IST
Allahabad High Court orders UP govt to immediately remove hoardings naming accused in anti-CAA protests, calls it 'unwarranted interference'
  • The Allahabad High Court has ordered the Uttar Pradesh Police to remove hoardings displaying photographs of those accused of destroying public property during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests held in the state in December last year

  • The advocate general had argued that the high court bench had no jurisdiction to take up this matter suo motu, given that the posters were displayed in Lucknow

  • "In entirety, we have no doubt that the action of the state which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people," the court held

The Allahabad High Court has ordered the Uttar Pradesh Police to remove hoardings displaying photographs of those accused of destroying public property during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests held in the state in December last year. "In entirety, we have no doubt that the action of the state which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people. The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the court held.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the hoardings on Sunday, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government and termed the act "highly unjust" and an "encroachment on personal liberty".

The compliance report has to be submitted to the Allahabad High Court on 16 March, Bar and Bench has reported. The advocate general had argued that the high court bench had no jurisdiction to take up this matter suo motu, given that the posters were displayed in Lucknow. Mathur, however, responded that the high court has jurisdiction over matters concerning the entire state. The advocate-general also argued on Sunday that the hoardings were put to deter other people from doing similar acts and to maintain strict law and order. He further argued that the petition is meant for law-followers and not lawbreakers.

Hearing the matter in a special sitting, the bench on Sunday had also asked Lucknow commissioner of police Sujit Pandey and district magistrate Abhishek Prakash to explain the law under which the hoardings were put up.

On Thursday, the Lucknow district administration had installed hoardings with photos and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters at prominent crossings across the city. According to News18, among those whose pictures have been put up on the posters are Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas, retired IPS officer SR Darapuri and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar.

Allahabad High Court orders UP govt to immediately remove hoardings naming accused in antiCAA protests calls it unwarranted interference

A poster featuring names of those accused of violence during anti-CAA protesters in Lucknow. News18

The court on Sunday said that the government's action of putting up posters of anti-CAA protesters was 'highly unjust' and that it was an 'absolute encroachment' on the personal liberty of the persons concerned, according to LiveLaw.

The court has reserved its judgment for 2 pm on 9 March (Monday).

'Posters put up on CM's directive,' says govt spokesperson

Some activists who figure in the posters had earlier said they will go to court over the "public humiliation" when the charges against them are yet to be proved.

Opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, lashed out at the BJP government for branding the protesters guilty.

A government spokesman said the posters have been up on the chief minister's directive at important intersections, including the main crossing in the busy Hazratganj area and in front of the Assembly building.

He said the people on the posters are those who had damaged public property under the pretext of protests, and notices have already been issued seeking compensation from them.

The posters say that property of the accused will be confiscated if they fail to pay the compensation.

Sadaf Jafar, who is among those whose photos appear on the posters, termed the move unethical and vowed to take legal recourse. "How can we be publicly humiliated for something that has not yet been proved in court,” she said.

SR Darapuri claimed that the move is illegal. "Our life, property and freedom have been put in jeopardy by putting up these posters and our reputation has been damaged," he said.

Darapuri added that he is writing to the state home secretary, director general of police and police commissioner, telling them that if they faced any trouble because of the posters, it would the administration's responsibility.

With inputs from agencies

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