Taking cognizance of a complaint filed by a Mumbai-based lawyer alleging that Uttar Pradesh had acted in an unconstitutional manner to deal with anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters, the Allahabad High Court yesterday issued notice to the Yogi Adityanath government.
Referring to news reports published in The Telegraph and the New York Times on December 29, 2019, and January 2, 2020, respectively, the lawyer, Ajay Kumar of Bombay High Court, had observed that the situation in UP was antithetical to the core constitutional values and as such the HC needed to intervene.
Kumar’s email to HC Chief Justice Govind Mathur also demanded the institution of a judicial inquiry and cited news reports to allege that the state police committed atrocities on madarsa students, while they were protesting against the CAA.
Treating the email as a public interest litigation (PIL), a division bench comprising Chief Justice Mathur and Justice Vivek Varma sought a reply from the Adityanath government as to why the prayer of the petitioner should not be admitted. The court fixed January 16 for the next date of hearing.
The HC has also appointed two senior lawyers - S F A Naqvi and Ramesh Kumar as amicus curiae - to assist the court in the case. A copy of the court’s observation has also been sent to the Mumbai-based lawyer.
During the hearing, Naqvi also presented a news report on the same topic published in the Lucknow edition of an English daily.
Earlier, UP Human Rights Commission (UPHRC) chairperson Justice (retired) Rafat Alam had directed the state chief secretary to make a “detailed enquiry of all the related incidents” involving UP Police during the anti-CAA protests and send a report within four weeks.
Taking suo-motu cognisance of the matter, the UPHRC noted that according to media reports, several people were injured and “many died” when police resorted to lathicharge and firing at rallies and dharnas (sit-ins) organised by the protesters against the CAA.
“Allegations are raised at certain quarters, including the media that these deaths, scores of injured persons and the consequent violation of human rights, was the result of police excesses and reckless handling by the police. The Commission finds it a fit case for an inquiry by taking suo-motu cognisance,” the order dated December 30, 2019, stated.
Last month, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had also issued a notice to the UP Police in the matter.
NHRC had received complaints seeking its intervention in the alleged incidents of violation of human rights by the cops against protesters, following which a notice was issued to the UP Director General of Police (DGP) seeking a report in four weeks.
The complainant to the NHRC had alleged that after the passage of the CAA, “there have been many incidents of human rights violations” by the authorities in UP. “Youth have been killed, the internet has been suspended and the police themselves are destroying public property. The right to peaceful assembly has also been violated,” says the complaint submitted to the NHRC.
Meanwhile, the Adityanath government has since maintained that the state police exhibited utmost restraint even in the face of arson and violence by protesters across the state, including in Lucknow. Although, the police claimed that none died in police firing, yet several people lost their lives during the spiralling violence during anti-CAA protests in several places.
The government has warned that those responsible for violence and destruction of public properties would not be spared and attachment notices would be issued against them. So far, nearly 500 people have been identified for causing damage to public and private properties in UP.