The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea seeking to quash notices sent by district administrations to alleged protestors against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported. The notices were sent to recover losses incurred by the state after protestors allegedly damaged properties during the demonstrations.
Justices DY Chandrachud and KM Joseph issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and asked it to reply within four weeks.
The petition, filed by advocate Parwaiz Arif Titu, had sought a stay on the notices, alleging that they have been sent to persons who have not been booked under any penal provisions, and no details of any first information report or any criminal offences have been made out against them. The plea, filed through advocate Niloufar Khan, alleged that notices have been sent to people in an arbitrary manner, including to a 94-year-old man who died six years ago, and to two people above the age of 90.
The plea claimed that the notices were based on an Allahabad High Court verdict delivered in 2010 which was in violation of the guidelines passed by the Supreme Court in 2009, directives that the court reaffirmed in 2018.
“The contradiction is that while the Supreme Court in 2009 put the onus of assessment of damages and recovery from the accused on high courts of every state, whereas the Allahabad High Court had issued guidelines in the 2010 judgement that let the state government undertake these processes to recover damages, which has serious implications,” the plea said. The petitioner sought an order to the Uttar Pradesh government to follow the procedure the Supreme Court set down in 2009 and 2018 while claiming damages to recover the losses caused to public property during such protests.
The petition also sought the setting up of an independent judicial inquiry into violence during the protests in Uttar Pradesh. The plea has claimed that the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is “moving ahead on the chief minister’s promise of avenging loss to public property” by seizing assets of protestors in order to “take revenge for political reasons from one community who is in minority”.
The plea also alleged that 925 persons who have been arrested for violent protests may not get bail easily in Uttar Pradesh till they pay up for the losses, because they will be provided conditional bail only after they deposit the amount.
“The government of Uttar Pradesh and its administration and police are no longer behaving like the arm of a democratic government as it cracked down on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019/NRC,” the petition read. “The police on the instructions of the Uttar Pradesh administration used disproportionate force and denied public accountability.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have been accused of using excessive force against protestors. Of the 28 people who have died in the protests since December, 19 have died in Uttar Pradesh itself. The police have also been accused of entering and looting people’s homes, destroying property and detaining and torturing minors.