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Ex-SC, HC judges, senior lawyers write to CJI for suo motu action on bulldozing of houses in UP

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Former judges and senior advocates have written to Chief Justice of India N V Ramana urging him to take suo motu cognizance of alleged incidents of illegal detention, bulldozing of residences, and police action on protestors agitating against certain objectionable remarks made by BJP spokespersons.

The letter signed by them said, “the letter petition is being presented as an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court of India to take cognizance of the recent incidents of violence and repression by state authorities on citizens of Uttar Pradesh.”

It further said that the recent remarks made by certain BJP spokespersons (since suspended from the office) on the Prophet Mohammed have resulted in protests in multiple parts of the country, particularly in UP. The letter petition has been signed by former judges of the top court Justices B Sudarshan Reddy, V Gopala Gowda, and AK Ganguly, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah, former judge of Madras High Court Justice K Chandru, and former judge Karnataka High Court Mohammed Anwar. Among the senior lawyers who have signed the letter petition include senior advocates Shanti Bhushan, Indira Jaising, CU Singh, Sriram Panchu, Prashant Bhushan, and Anand Grover.

It said, “Instead of giving protestors 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 Chief Minister has reportedly officially exhorted officials to take such action against those guilty that it sets an example so that no one commits a crime or take the law into their hands in future.” It added that the UP CM has further directed that the National Security Act, 1980, and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, be invoked against those found guilty of unlawful protests. It is these remarks that have emboldened the police to brutally and unlawfully torture protestors, the letter petition added.

“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 police, are circulating on social media, shaking the conscience of the nation”, it added. It said that such a brutal clampdown by a ruling administration is an unacceptable subversion of the rule of law and a violation of the rights of citizens, and makes a mockery of the constitution and fundamental rights guaranteed by the State.

“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. Some recent examples are suo motu actions taken by the Supreme Court in the migrant workers’ matter and the Pegasus matter” it added.

The petition further said, “In the same spirit, and its role as custodian of the constitution, we, therefore, urge the Supreme Court to take immediate suo motu action to arrest the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, specifically involving the high-handedness of the police and state authorities, and the brutal clampdown on the fundamental rights of the citizen. We hope and trust the Supreme Court will rise to the occasion and not let the citizens and the constitution down at this critical juncture”.

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