Amidst an ongoing controversy and potential legal struggle over the Uttar Pradesh government's controversial policy of demolishing the homes of people, overwhelmingly Muslims, who have been accused of participating in communal riots, the Yogi Adityanath-led state government informed the Supreme Court that no property in the state was demolished to punish people accused of participating in violent protests against remarks by two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Prophet Mohammed.
Rather, it claimed that properties were demolished on the basis of other violations, such as illegal construction.
Earlier, a plea was filed in the apex court challenging the demolitions which it said are targetting a particular community. In response, the state government has sought dismissal of the plea and sought the imposition of fines on the petitioner.
It also told the apex court that petitioner Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has selectively picked certain media reports and that allegations levelled by them are false.
Possible legal struggle ahead
On June 13, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had approached the Supreme Court seeking appropriate direction to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no further demolitions are carried out without following due process of law, against the backdrop of the ongoing row over comments on the Prophet and subsequent demolition drives.
On June 16, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the UP government seeking its response to a plea filed by the Islamic organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. The court had then observed that demolitions have to be in accordance with the law, and cannot be a retaliatory measure.
The state government, however, has argued that at least two Kanpur builders have admitted the constructions are illegal and proceedings under the Urban Planning Act had started long before the riots.
"Demolitions have been carried out by the Local Development Authorities, which are statutory autonomous bodies, independent of the State administration, as per law as part of their routine effort against unauthorised/illegal constructions and encroachments, in accordance with the UP Urban Planning and Development Act, 1972," it said.
The state government informed the top court that it was taking action in accordance with a completely different set of statutes; namely, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Indian Penal Code (IPC), UP Gangster and Anti Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, Prevention of Public Property Damages Act; and Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020 and Rules 2021.