Encroachment on Personal Liberty: Allahabad HC to Hear Issue of Anti-CAA Protesters on Banners

Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court on Sunday observed that the decision of the Lucknow district administration to put up hoardings with names, photos and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters was an “absolute encroachment on personal liberty” and hoped that good sense would prevail on the state to remove the banners before 3pm.

Adjourning the matter for 3pm on Sunday at the request of the state, the court said it hoped the hoardings would be removed by then.

The Chief Justice of the high court, Justice Govind Mathur, had taken suo motu cognizance of the hoardings and 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 district administration put up hoardings with photos and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters at prominent crossings across the city. The hoardings included pictures of Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas, Darapuri and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, all of whom were named as accused in the violence that swept the state capital on December 19 last year.

Addressing the media, the Lucknow DM had said: “The hoardings of people who have been identified by the district administration for indulging in violent activities during the protest have been put up across the city. Around 100 such hoardings will be put up at several places and these will feature the pictures, names and addresses of people. Also, people indulging in violence have been served recovery notices and if they don’t pay for the damages, then their properties will be confiscated.”

Retired IPS officer SR Darapuri, whose picture was among those of the protesters, termed the exercise undemocratic and said he would file a defamation case.

“I have not received any kind of notice yet and I am going to file a defamation case in this regard. We are going to challenge the entire matter in the High Court and will also file a writ petition. Whatever is being done is undemocratic, our crime is not yet proven in court and not even the charge sheet has been filed in this case. We will go for appeal against this diktat and will fight till the end.”

Another person whose picture was on the hoardings, Robin Verma, said: “Our personal details like address are given on the hoarding and if any untoward incident happens or any anti-social element attacks our house, then Lucknow District Administration will be completely responsible for it.”

Muslim clerics from both Shia and Sunni sects also condemned the move and called it “a complete violation of basic human rights”.

Speaking to News18, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, a noted Sunni scholar and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said: “Several FIRs were registered and violence was also condemned by everyone. Many people went to jail and were later released on bail. The matter is still sub-judice. People whose pictures are there on hoardings are residents of Lucknow. Many of them have a good reputation in the society.”

He added: “The hoardings give an impression that they are hard-core criminals. Putting up their pictures is a violation of basic human rights. The administration should immediately remove these posters and abide by the court of law,” he said.

Maulana Saif Abbas, a Shia leader and cleric whose picture is also featured on the hoardings, said: “We were helping tourists and we stood along with senior officials of the district administration on the day the violence broke out. Now notices are being sent. At least they should show me where I am pelting stones. It is very sad to know that even when I am yet to receive any kind of notice, my pictures are there on hoardings all over the city.”

He added that the step showed the administration was working under the government’s pressure. “I would like to make it clear that no one is afraid and demoralised by these hoardings. We firmly believe in the law and Constitution of our country. Not a single stone was pelted in front of Bara Imambara where I was present. This is all done due to petty politics and is very unfortunate,” he had said.

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