The Allahabad High Court on Monday ordered the Yogi Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh to remove the hoardings with the photos and addresses of anti-CAA protesters, recently put up across Lucknow. The High Court Bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha also directed the District Magistrate and Police Commissioner of Lucknow to submit the compliance report by 16 March with the Registrar General of the High Court.
“In entirety, we are having no doubt that the action of the State which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people. The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” Livelaw website quoted the bench as saying.
The High Court had taken a suo moto cognisance of the matter on Sunday when it decided to hear the matter at 10 AM yesterday. It had said that the UP government’s decision was ‘highly unjust’ and ‘encroachment’ on the personal liberty of those concerned.
This was after the cops in Lucknow had put up hoardings carrying addresses of the 28 people as authorities accused them of damaging property during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in the city in December last year. The UP Police’s decision to ‘name and shame’ those critical of the BJP government’s policies, triggered widespread condemnation.
The hoardings also warned the individuals to pay Rs 64 lakh failing which their properties will be confiscated. Hoardings were installed at important intersections, including the main crossing in the busy Hazratganj area and in front of the Assembly building in Lucknow, reportedly at the behest of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
Describing it as a mockery of law, retired IPS officer SR Darapuri, whose name also figured among the accused, told news agency PTI, “How can the police put up such hoardings merely on the basis of their own reports? Has any court of law held us guilty? The police action amounts to defamation and violates our right to privacy.”
The government’s brazenness left everyone stunned. Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash, an IAS officer, had proudly announced what’s being termed as an unlawful move as he said that around 100 such hoardings are to be put up across the city. A tweet by his office had read, “The notice to recover the losses caused by the damage to public and private properties during the 19 December violence has been made public through hoardings.”