PRAYAGRAJ: In a setback to the Yogi Adityanath government, the Allahabad high court on Monday ordered immediate removal of hoardings carrying names, address and photographs of anti-CAA protesters against whom recovery notices had earlier been served for allegedly damaging private and public properties.
Calling the Uttar Pradesh government’s action an “unwarranted interference in the privacy of people”, a division bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha said: “The same hence is in violation of the Article 21 of the Constitution, which clearly provides that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
The Lucknow divisional commissioner and district magistrate were asked to execute the order and file a compliance report in court by March 16.
Though HC ordered “immediate” removal of hoardings, the Lucknow administration had not taken them off till late Monday evening. ANI quoted government sources as saying that it might challenge the HC order in Supreme Court. When asked why the hoardings had not been removed despite HC order, a government spokesperson told TOI it was yet to receive a copy of the order. “Besides, HC has given time till March 16 for compliance. The government will take a call on the next course of action after Holi,” he said.
In its order, while admitting that the state can always take necessary steps to ensure law and order, the HC said, “But that cannot be by violating fundamental rights of people.”
On Saturday, the HC had taken suo motu cognizance of the hoardings put up on Thursday night by the Lucknow district administration which contained names, photos and addresses of 57 people accused of destroying properties during anti-CAA protest on December 19.
Rejecting the arguments of advocate general Raghvendra Singh, the HC directed UP government on Monday not to place such banners containing personal data of individuals without having authority of law on the roadside.
“Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the power is available to a court to publish a written proclamation requiring the appearance of a person against whom a warrant has been issued and such person is concealing himself to avoid execution of a warrant. No other power is available in the code to police or the executive to display personal records of a person to public at large,” the bench observed.
“So far as legality part is concerned, suffice to state that no law permits the state to place the banners with personal data of the accused from whom compensation is to be charged,” it further said.
Rejecting the government’s pleas that the purpose of putting the hoardings was only to deter people from participating in illegal activities, the bench said, “The advocate general failed to satisfy us as to why the personal data of a few persons have been placed on banners in UP.”
Source: Times of India