New Delhi: Former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer S.R. Darapuri and activist-politician Sadaf Jafar, who were among a list of people ‘named and shamed’ by the Uttar Pradesh Government for protesting against the CAA, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to refer the matter to a three-judge bench next week.
Darapuri and Jafar were among names whose names and photos were put up at major road intersections in Lucknow. Darapuri and Jafar welcomed the Supreme Court's direction on Thursday. The apex court did not stay the Allahabad High Court's order to the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government to remove posters put up to "name and shame" people accused of vandalism during anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests and report to it by March 16. The activists say, however, that each day’s delay causes harm to those named and shamed.
The IPS officer-turned-activist, a prominent face of protests against the CAA in UP, welcomed the Supreme Court decision that the matter would be heard next week by a three-judge bench.
"We welcome the direction of the Supreme Court and that the State Government has not got a stay against the High Court’s order. Secondly, we also welcome the fact that the matter has been transferred to a larger bench in terms of violation of fundamental rights. Third, and most importantly, we, the affected people have been given the liberty to plead our case and we will now do so in the Supreme Court as well,” Darapuri told NewsClick.
Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi represented Darapuri while Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves took up Sadaf Jafar’s case before the apex court today.
Reacting to the Supreme Court's direction, activist Sadaf Jafar told NewsClick: “It was good that the Supreme Court asked Mehta (Solicitor General) which law the state government could use to justify putting up such posters. But now, it will be under consideration (of the SC) and till then, the government will not remove the hoardings. It shows how arbitrary and authoritarian this Government is,” she added.
Jafar said that the hoardings are completely unlawful and that no court of law would approve of them. She mentioned that the way the High Court took suo moto cognisance of the case was commendable. "UP government is acting with a sense of revenge," she added.
When asked about how her life had been affected by the hoardings which have been put up across the city, Jafar said that hers had “totally changed” with people trolling her on every social media platform. “Ironically, these hoardings were put up in places which our family members, my children pass by,” she said. Jafar added that by putting up the hoardings, the government has put their families in danger, “but we are sure that this case is weak and it will be dismissed by the Supreme Court.”
Among those mentioned on the hoardings, the name of social worker Deepak Kabir is also included. The hoardings reveal identities of 57 people, and have been put up at different intersections across Lucknow. When he spoke to NewsClick, Deepak recited a verse by Mirza Ghalib: ‘Hum ne maana ke taghaful na karoge lekin, Khaak ho jaayenge hum tumko khabar hone tak’ (True, you’d respond without least delay, But when you come to know, I’d be no more)
He told NewsClick, “The purpose for which the hoardings were installed has been fulfilled already. The damage is already done by the Government and now the fight was about ethics; that if the hoardings should be up or not, and the High Court took suo moto cognisance itself.” He added that those on the hoardings did not approach the Allahabad HC and that the Government could not get a stay as well. He mentioned that the apex court repeatedly asked the Government for the law under which the posters could be justified and that the State Government has now made it an issue of their “prestige”.
No Law to Back UP Govt’s Action, Says SC
The Supreme Court on Thursday told the Uttar Pradesh government that as of now, there was no law that could back their action of putting up roadside posters of those accused of alleged vandalism during anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests in Lucknow.
However, an apex court bench refused to stay the Allahabad High Court dated March 9 directing the Yogi Adityanath administration to remove the posters, and referred the matter to a larger three-judge bench.
Meanwhile, Piyush Mishra, the advocate for activist Deepak Kabir, whose picture appears on the hoardings, said that if the Supreme Court has not put any stay against the order of the High Court legally and the HC has given a March 16 deadline to submit a compliance report and remove the hoarding, then the Government will have to follow the order at any cost as there was no such provision which could justify the hoardings and that there were “multiple legal violations.”
"All those whose names appeared on hoardings are on out on bail and even the charge sheet has not been filed. So, on what basis have they proceeded in the case? It clear that government put up hoardings to provoke the right-wing mob to lynch these activists. The UP police failed in coming up with any evidence against these activists in connection with the rioting that happened in Lucknow on December 19, 2019. That was the main ground on which these people were granted bail by the court and we are sure it cannot be proven in the court," Mishra told NewsClick.
Fifty seven people have been identified in separate hoardings across the city. These hoardings have come up in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of four police stations – Hazratganj, Thakurganj, Hasanganj and Qaiserbagh.