Supreme Court
Supreme Court
File pic

New Delhi: Referring the matter to a larger bench, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay or interfere with the Allahabad High Court's order to remove UP government's hoardings in Lucknow on names, addresses and photographs of anti-CAA protesters.

The Bench of Justices U U Lalit and Aniruddha Bose told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, that there is no law in place to back the act of naming and shaming of people accused of vandalism.

It, however, opted to refer the matter to a regular Bench of three judges since the matter has a lot to do with the right to privacy judgment of the court.

It has accordingly directed placement of the case before the Chief Justice of India, who will set up a 3-judge Bench next week.

The Bench, however, noted the difference between acts of individuals and the State. "Individual can do anything unless specifically prohibited by law. The State can do anything only when permitted by law."

On Mehta arguing that the hoardings were put up as a deterrent after following the process of law to identify those liable to pay for their alleged acts, Justice Lalit shot back: "Did the time given to make payment expired? No....They have also challenged the order to pay compensation."

The vacation bench was hearing an appeal filed by the UP government, challenging the March 9 Allahabad High Court order to remove the hoardings and posters of the accused.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for accused S R Darapuri, a retired Inspector General of Police, and senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for lawyer Mohd Shoaib, said the hoardings with addresses and photographs of the accused were an open invitation to the public to lynch them.

"Somebody can come to my home and kill me, the grossest form of violation of my human rights," Gonsalves said.

Singhvi said even child rapists and murderers cannot be identified in such hoardings, since there is no policy in India to name and shame them.

The hoardings also included photographs of Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas and Congress leader Sadaf Jafer, declared as accused in the violence that swept the state capital on last December 19.

The solicitor general, however, denied violation of privacy of the accused. He said the right to privacy has several dimensions as far as K Puttaswamy judgment is concerned and a person wielding gun during the protest and allegedly involved in violence cannot claim the right to privacy. The Bench shot back that there is no law to back your drastic step.

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