Lucknow: There is a joke regarding Monday blues, “I am convinced God has given us Monday to punish us for things which we did over the weekend.”
The Yogi Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh witnessed something similar on Monday when the Allahabad High court slammed its move to name and shame the anti-Citizenship Law protesters accused of violence by putting up banners across the State capital Friday featuring their photos, addresses and amount of penalty.
The High Court, which had taken suo motu cognizance of the matter on Saturday night and held urgent hearings on Sunday pulling up authorities for “highly unjust” move and called the hoardings illegal and ordered immediate removal of them. The government has been asked to submit a compliance report by 16 March.
Directing the District Magistrate, Lucknow and the Commissioner of Police, Lucknow to remove the banners from the roadside forthwith, the court ruled, “No law is in existence permitting the State to place the banners with personal data of the accused from whom compensation is to be charged… this reflects colourable exercise of powers by the Executive.”
The bench headed by Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha ruled, “The learned Advocate General failed to satisfy us as to why personal data of few persons have been placed on banners though in the State there are lakhs of accused persons facing serious criminal charges but their personal details have not been subjected to publicity....The state can take necessary steps to ensure maintenance of law and order but that cannot be by violating fundamental rights of people...In entirety, the action of the State is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people which violated Article 21 of the Constitution.”
The court overruled the arguments put forth by the advocate general Raghvendra Singh that the principal seat of HC in Allahabad had no jurisdiction to take up this matter suo motu as the hoardings were put up in Lucknow which has a division bench, and that the hoardings aimed to deter others from indulging in violence and also that PIL was not meant for those who break laws.
The hoardings have not been removed yet as the government plans to approach the apex court for respite.
The personal details of 57 accused such as Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas, retired IPS officer SR Darapuri and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, were exhibited across Lucknow. The hoardings mentioned that they were “Jointly and personally” liable to pay Rs. 64 lakhs to the government failing which their property would be confiscated.