The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file its reply in three days to petitions made by Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind and others seeking directions to state authorities to ensure that no further demolitions of houses are undertaken by the state without following due process.
The two-judge bench, comprising Justices AS Bopana and Vikram Nath, further stated that they couldn’t stop the ongoing UP government’s demolition drive but could direct the state officials to conduct it in accordance with the law. The top court will now hear the matter next on Tuesday.
Earlier, in a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, a group of eminent lawyers and retired judges has requested the Supreme Court “to take suo motu cognisance of recent incidents of violence and repression by state authorities on citizens in Uttar Pradesh” after violent protests broke out across the state demanding the arrest of the now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad
The scathing letter against the Yogi government’s points out the inhuman treatment meted out to the protesters by “unlawfully torturing” them “instead of giving protesters an opportunity of being heard and engaging in peaceful protests.” “The UP state administration appears to have sanctioned taking violent action against such individuals,” the letter further read. UP CM Yogi has encouraged his officials “to take such action against those guilty that it sets an example so that no one commits a crime or takes law into their hands in future”.
“Pursuant to this, the UP police have arrested more than 300 persons and registered FIRs against protesting citizens. Videos of young men in police custody being beaten with lathis, houses of protestors being demolished without notice or any cause of action, and protestors from the minority Muslim community being chased and beaten by the police, are circulating on social media, shaking the conscience of the nation,” the letter further stated.
“The coordinated manner in which the police and development authorities have acted leads to the clear conclusion that demolitions are a form of collective extra judicial punishment, attributable to a state policy which is illegal,” said the letter, while adding, “The mettle of the judiciary is tested in such critical times. On many occasions, including in the recent past, the judiciary has faced such challenges and emerged with distinction as the custodian of the rights of the people”.