The Allahabad High Court has postponed the hearing of the case related to naming and shaming of anti-CAA protesters till 3.00 pm on Sunday on the request of the Uttar Pradesh government. In a rare move, the court of Chief Justice Govind Mathur has taken the case on suo motu(on its own) cognizance. The initial hearing in the case was scheduled at 10 am today, a court holiday.
The Chief Justice asked the UP government if it was not encroaching on personal space and liberty of citizens and expressed hope that the administration will take corrective measures before the hearing begins.
The Lucknow district administration on March 6 had started the process to shame as many as 57 people, identified for being allegedly involved in violence during the anti-CAA protest, by putting up hoardings with their names and addresses.
A total of 100 hoardings were put up at all major crossings in the city with names and addresses of 57 persons who have been identified so far for being allegedly involved in the violence that broke out during anti-CAA protests in the state capital in December last year.
Those named were asked to pay for damage to public property during the protests in Lucknow, in which one person had died. The hoardings also say if the accused fails to pay up, their properties would be attached.
Individual property attachment notices to many of the accused have already been served by the government.
The hoardings in Lucknow were put up on instructions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a source in the Chief Minister’s Office said on condition of anonymity to news agency IANS.
On Friday, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office sent an unsigned two-page note justifying the hoardings. They said they were put up keeping larger public interest in mind and after following all rules.
Among those named in the hoardings are activist-politician Sadaf Jafar, lawyer Mohammed Shoaib, theatre personality Deepak Kabir and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer SR Darapuri.
All of them are out on bail and have said they will contest in court any move by the government to attach their property.
Calling the government’s move unethical, IANS quoted Sadaf Jafar as saying, “I’m not absconding… It’s pathetic to put our names and addresses here.”
“We were arrested, assaulted, sent to jail and then given bail. Now this is a new tactic to put pressure on us. I got a recovery notice while in jail. I sent a letter via the jail superintendent asking how I could plead my case when I was in jail. I got no reply. No one listened to me and then they sent me a recovery order,” Deepak Kabir said.
The administration had already issued recovery notices to these people for damaging public property worth Rs 1.55 crore.
Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash had earlier said that in case of failure to pay the recovery amount, the properties of the accused would be confiscated.
In January, a UP court, in a major setback for the government, had granted bail to 48 people accused of rioting and attempted murder by the state police during the violent December protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA.
Making some scathing observations against the police investigation, the judge had said, “The police FIR says the mob fired at the cops, but no evidence has been presented in court to show any recovery of weapons.
“The government lawyers have failed to produce any evidence in court that shows that anyone part of the mob fired at the police.”
“Nor proof has been presented that any private vehicles or shops were vandalized, the judge said.
The violence that broke out in many parts of the state between December 19 and 21 has claimed as many as 21 lives.
More than 1,100 people were arrested and 5,558 kept in preventive detention following violence related to anti-CAA protests across Uttar Pradesh.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier in December said that his government will take revenge against those involved in the violence and will auction their properties to compensate for the losses.
The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which provides for granting citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, has evoked widespread protests, especially in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the northeast.
(With inputs from IANS)