By Special Correspondent
New Delhi: Taking strong notice of brazen violation of the Constitution in BJP ruled states notably in Uttar Pradesh, a group of 12 notable retired Supreme and high court judges, as well as senior attorneys on Tuesday jointly petitioned Supreme Court Chief Justice N V Ramana to take suo motu cognizance of recent acts of “illegal imprisonment, bulldozing of dwellings, and police assault on demonstrators and those in police custody” in Prayagraj and other places in Uttar Pradesh.
“The mettle of the court is being tried in such vital times,” the retired judges and advocates wrote in a combined plea, expressing grave alarm over the developments.
The legal luminaries argued that the court had overcome problems in the past and emerged with distinction as the custodian of the people’s rights, drawing the attention of the CJI to the highhandedness of the police and state officials. They cited the Supreme Court’s suo motu actions in the migrant labourers case and the Pegasus case as examples of such moves.
“In the same spirit, and in its role as custodian of the Constitution,” the appeal said, “we therefore urge the Honourable Supreme Court to take immediate suo motu action to arrest the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, specifically involving the highhandedness of the police and state authorities, and the brutal clampdown on citizens’ fundamental rights.”
“The Supreme Court will rise to the occasion and not let the citizens and the Constitution down at this critical juncture,” they said.
It is worth noting that following Friday prayers on June 10, massive’spontaneous’ protests erupted across India in response to the government’s indifference and inactivity against the perpetrator of blasphemy, in which killed two young lads in Ranchi and injured hundreds in an excessive use of force. The claimed police brutality directed at Muslim protestors across India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, where police wielded batons, threw stones, and attacked a large number of individuals with sticks before detaining them and bulldozing Muslim homes without due process.
“The UP administration appears to have sanctioned taking harsh action against such individuals,” they stated, rather than providing demonstrators a chance to be heard and engage in peaceful marches.
The “Chief Minister has apparently officially exhorted officials “to take such action against those responsible that it sets an example so that no one commits a crime or takes law into their own hands in the future,” according to the letter-appeal.
The Chief Minister also directed the authorities to use the National Security Act of 1980 and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act of 1986 to prosecute anybody found guilty of unauthorized protests, according to the letter.
“It is these remarks that have emboldened the police to brutally and unlawfully torture protesters”, they said.
They claimed that videos of young men in police custody being beaten with lathis, houses of protesters being demolished without notice or cause of action, and protesters from the minority Muslim community being chased and beaten by the police, which have been circulating on social media, had shaken the nation’s conscience.
“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 letter said.
“The coordinated manner in which the police and development authorities have behaved,” they wrote, “leads to the clear conclusion that demolitions are a kind of collective extrajudicial punishment, owing to an illegal state policy.”
The letter appeal is signed by:
Justice B Sudarshan Reddy, former Judge, Supreme Court of India.
Justice V. Gopala Gowda, former judge, Supreme Court of India.
Justice A K Ganguly, former judge, Supreme Court of India.
Justice A P Shah, former chief justice, Delhi high court and former chairperson, Law Commission of India.
Justice K. Chandru, former judge, Madras High Court.
Justice Mohammed Anwar, Former judge, Karnataka high court.
Mr. Shanti Bhushan, senior advocate, Supreme Court.
Ms Indira Jaisinh, senior advocate, Supreme Court.
Mr. Chander Udai Singh, senior advocate, Supreme Court.
Mr. Sriram Panchu, senior advocate, Madras High Court.
Mr. Prashant Bhushan, advocate, Supreme Court.
Mr. Anand Grover, senior advocate, Supreme Court.