Seeking ‘suo motu’ action against the bulldozer tactics and indiscriminate arrests of the protestors in Uttar Pradesh, several former judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts and senior advocates have written to the Chief Justice of India, N.V.Ramana, to intervene in the wake of incidents of violence and repression by the state authorities on citizens.
The letter, signed by 12 former judges and senior lawyers, has urged the Court to stop the “deteriorating law and order situation” in Uttar Pradesh.
The signatories to the letter are:
- Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy (Former judge of Supreme Court of India);
- Justice V. Gopala Gowda (Former judge of Supreme Court of India);
- Justice A.K. Ganguly, (Former judge of Supreme Court of India);
- Justice AP Shah (Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and former Chairperson, Law Commission of India);
- Justice K Chandru (Former Judge of Madras High Court);
- Justice Mohammed Anwar (Former Judge of Karnataka High Court);
- Shanti Bhushan (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court);
- Indira Jaising (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court);
- Chander Uday Singh (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court);
- Sriram Panchu (Senior Advocate, Madras High Court);
- Prashant Bhushan (Advocate, Supreme Court);
- Anand Grover (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court).
In their letters, the signatories have stated that instead of giving protestors an opportunity of being heard and to engage in peaceful protests, the Uttar Pradesh 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 takes law into their hands in the future. He 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 reads.
The letter states that pursuant to the statement of the chief minister more than 300 persons have been arrested and FIRs registered 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, 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 former judges and senior advocate said.
The coordinated manner, the letter reads, in which the police and development authorities have acted led to the clear conclusion that demolitions are a form of collective extrajudicial punishment, attributable to a slate policy which is illegal.
The letter reminds the CJI that 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. It cited the example of suo motu cognizance of the migrant crisis.
“Some recent examples are the suo motu actions taken by the Supreme Court in the migrant workers matter and in the Pegasus matter In the same spirit, and in its role as custodian al the Constitution, we, therefore, urge the loan”ole 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 citizens. 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”, the letter urges.