The Allahabad High Court on Sunday termed as “highly unjust” the putting up of roadside banners with photographs and information of people asked to pay compensation for damage to property during anti-CAA protests, and hoped that they will be removed, but the Uttar Pradesh government asserted that it was a “deterrent” action and the court should not interfere in such a matter. The court, which had on March 7 taken suo motu cognizance of the issue and asked the district magistrate and divisional commissioner of Lucknow to inform it about the law under which such posters/hoardings were put on the streets of the state capital, on Sunday reserved its order till March 9.
Taking up the matter on Sunday, a bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha, termed the action of Uttar Pradesh authorities as “highly unjust” and said it was an absolute encroachment on personal liberty of individuals.
It later adjourned the matter till 3 pm as Additional Advocate General Neeraj Tripathi informed the court that Advocate General would represent the state government in this matter.
As the bench rose, it expressed the hope that “good sense would prevail” on the State and it would remove the hoardings before 3 pm and apprise the court about this at that time.
When the hearing resumed, Advocate General Raghvendra Pratap Singh contended that the court should not interfere in such matter as a public interest litigation as those involved have damaged public and private property.
The Advocate General termed the act of the state government in putting up the posters of alleged CAA protestors as a ‘deterrent’, so that such incidents of violence are not repeated in future.
The court then reserved its order till 2 pm on March 9, 2020.
The state police have put up several hoardings across Lucknow identifying those accused of violence during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 in December last year.
The names, photographs and residential addresses of the accused are listed in the hoardings and they have been asked to pay for the damage to public and private property within a stipulated time or have their properties seized by the district administration.
Many of these people said they fear for their safety.
Activist-politician Sadaf Jafar had termed the move as 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.
“This is not Afghanistan. Legal issues cannot be brought into public like this. Our bail order says there is no adequate evidence against us,” Jafar told PTI.
She was arrested after the violence in Lucknow and later granted bail.
“We are not absconding,” she said, adding that they have appeared before the court and police whenever asked.
Former IPS officer, S R 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 had said.
Darapuri had said that he was 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.
“We will challenge it in court collectively and demand the immediate withdrawal of the posters as well as action against the officials responsible for it,” he had said.