Former Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Govind Mathur on Sunday termed the demolition of activist Javed Mohammed’s house in Prayagraj as illegal, The Indian Express reported.
Mohammed’s house was razed by the civic authorities on Sunday, a day after he was arrested for allegedly conspiring to carry out violent protests in Prayagraj. He allegedly wanted to oppose the disparaging remarks made by two Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons about Prophet Muhammad.
“Even if you assume for a moment that the construction was illegal, which by the way is how crores of Indians live, it is impermissible that you demolish a house on a Sunday when the residents are in custody,” Justice Mathur told The Indian Express. “It is not a technical issue but a question of rule of law.”
Notably, in March 2020, Justice Mathur had described the Uttar Pradesh government as “highly unjust” for putting up hoardings in Lucknow about those accused of causing violence during the Citizenship Act protests in December. The hoardings had photos, names and addresses of the accused persons.
Mathur said that the state’s action was an “absolute encroachment” on the personal liberty of the people whose names and photos were displayed.
‘No notice was served earlier’
On Sunday, the Prayagraj Development Authority had asked Mohammed’s family to vacate the house by 11 am. The authority claimed that it had given a show-cause notice to Mohammed, on May 10, asking him to appear for a hearing before it on May 24.
However, Somaiya Fatima, the younger daughter of Mohammed, told Scroll.in that the family had not been served any notice about the alleged illegality of their house.
“This is the first notice that we got last night [Saturday],” she said. “No one has even spoken to us about this before a day ago. If our property was truly illegal, then why did they not come and give us these notices early. This is an incredibly hard time for us.”
Fatima said that she and her mother were also detained on Saturday night and released the next morning.
“They only told us that they wanted to speak to us about something and then they will let us go,” she told Scroll.in. “They started with asking us strange questions like what are the kind of conversations we have at home and what are the kind of posts we share. They were trying to get something controversial out of us, but none of that is even true. We only speak the truth.”
Fatima said that while women police officers tried to get them to talk, a male officer abused her mother and said that force should be used to make them “spill the truth”.
Mohammed’s lawyer also questioned the legality of the demolition claiming that it belonged to his wife, but the order did not mention her name.