Anti CAA protests: Allahabad court protects two accused of sedition from arrest

The Division Bench however did not agree to quash the FIR against the two


The Division Bench of Justices Bachchoo Lal and Subhash Chandra Sharma have stayed the arrest of two accused in Ahmed Ali and ors vs State of Uttar Pradesh and 2 others (Crl. Misc. W.P No. 12148 of 2020). The court however did not find any ground to quash the FIR against the two.

Syed Ahmad Naseem represented the accused/petitioners and a Government Advocate appeared for the State of Uttar Pradesh.

The Bench said, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we do not find any ground to quash the impugned first information report. Hence, prayer for quashing the same is, hereby, refused. However, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and submissions advanced by learned counsel for the parties, we dispose of this writ petition with the direction that the petitioners shall not be arrested in the aforementioned case till the submission of police report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C. provided that petitioners shall participate and co-operate with the investigation.”

The charges levelled against Ahmed Ali, a Muslim cleric, and Suhaib-ur-Rahman, who heads a Muslim outfit are distribution of unlawful pamphlets during a protest in Prayagraj against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).

The petitioners had submitted that they have neither committed the alleged offence nor they were involved in the alleged incident and only for the “purpose of harassment the petitioners have been falsely implicated in the present case.”

Lawlessness in UP

In the aftermath of the Anti-citizenship law protests, the Uttar Pradesh administration, in an undemocratic move, put up posters with personal details of more than fifty people allegedly involved in vandalism during the protests in Lucknow. The posters sought compensation from the accused persons and further to confiscate their property by the District administration, if they failed to pay compensation.

SabrangIndia had reported in March that the Adityanath led government’s ordinance of recovering damage to public and private properties in any violent protest or demonstration from the miscreants through the name and shame policy, was highly arbitrary and could put the lives of people in serious danger.

Following the December, 2019 protests, the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters Act was slapped against twenty-eight alleged accused, all co incidentally belonging to the Muslim community. According to The Hindu reports, the Lucknow Police claimed that they have been accused of setting the Sathkhanda police outpost under the Thakurganj area on fire with the ‘intent to kill’ and firing on the police team.

Sections 2(b) and 3 of the Act were invoked by the Lucknow Police as per The Print reports. Section 2(b) defines a gang and prescribes a detailed list of anti-social activities punishable under the Act. These include resorting to violence to disturb communal harmony and indulging in terror activities in public.

Section 3 of the Act prescribes that a “gangster” shall be punished with imprisonment of either two years (three years in case the offence is committed against a public servant), which may extend to ten years with fine imposition.

In January, 2020, The Hindu had also reported on the multiple FIR’s filed against several women for protesting in Rae Bareli, Prayagraj, Etawah, Lucknow under charges of criminal conspiracy, gathering in an unlawful assembly, disobeying a public servants orders of the Indian Penal Code. Among them, famous poet Munawwar Rana’s daughters Sumaiya Rana and Fauzia Rana were also named in the FIR.

The Chief Minister’s brazen remarks against the anti CAA protestors kicked off a major controversy as he assured that no citizen died of police bullets, rather died to the rioter’s bullets, as per National Herald reports. “If someone goes to the street with the intent to shoot people, either he dies or a cop dies”, he commented.

He further added, “Azaadi (freedom) slogans are being raised. What is ‘azaadi’? Do we have to work towards Jinnah’s dream or do we have to work towards Gandhi’s dream? The police should be praised for their work. After the December violence, there were no riots in the state.”

This statement of the Chief Minister stands contradicted to the Bijnor senior police officials’ statement that admitted a 20-year-old civilian died after he was shot by constable Mohit Kumar in “self-defence”. The Indian Express had confirmed in December, 2019 that a ballistic report revealed that it was shot from the service pistol of Mohit Kumar.

Judiciary’s response

In the matter of several banners placed on the road side of Lucknow City, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha (Allahabad High Court) noted that in the State’s endeavour to maintain law and order, it cannot violate a person’s fundamental rights.

“A valid apprehension of causing serious injury to the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India exists which demands adequate treatment by the Court at its own. The prime consideration before the Court is to prevent the assault on fundamental rights, especially the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”, the court noted.

The Bench observed the sheer callousness of the government agencies and the “injury caused to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration. The cause as such is undemocratic functioning of government agencies which are supposed to treat all members of public with respect and courtesy and at all time should behave in manner that upholds constitutional and democratic values.”

The UP government appealed to the apex court to stay this High Court order of March 9. But to the defiant government’s surprise, the top court refused to do so and slammed the government as its name and shame policy lacked legal backing.

Despite this order, according to The Wire, posters with pictures of twelve who are said to have taken part in a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act last year who are also absconding, are doing the rounds in Lucknow again. The court had held that the Government had caused “unwarranted interference in privacy”, but the act of putting up posters with their personal details and faces must be held in contempt.   

The Bijnor police in Uttar Pradesh had arrested over 100 people and lodged multiple FIRs, blaming them for indulging in violence and injuring many police personnel, apart from damaging public property. But the Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Pandey granted bail to at lease seven accused of rioting and attempt to murder in State v Imran and Ors (Bail App No. 5 of 2020) on January 24.

He said, “The prosecution has argued that the police official was injured during stone-pelting. However, no such evidence has been placed by the prosecution to show that the accused persons indulged in vandalising shops or setting houses on fire… The police have shown that it has seized .315 bore bullets. However, it has not shown any seizure of weapons from any of the accused persons. According to the prosecution itself, no police official has received any bullet injury. I have been told that police officials have received injuries due to stone-pelting however, no evidence has been produced that proves that anyone sustained serious injuries.”

In December 2019, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain pleas of setting up an enquiry into the police brutalities against students. A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had asked the petitioners to approach the concerned High Courts. In the backdrop of this, the Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Committee, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan criticized the state sponsored onslaught during nation-wide peaceful protests against the NRC and CAA.

In a letter addressed to CJI SA Bobde, Dr. Khan has condemned the manner in which the Police allegedly tried to mute the dissenting voices, by unnecessarily imposing Section 144 (joining unlawful assembly) and resorting to excessive use of force in areas like Bijnor and Meerut. Some excerpts from the letter say:

“Right to freedom of peaceful expression and protests is a fundamental and constitutional right of every Indian citizen. During the current peaceful protests against NRC/CAA across the country, Police behavior in various states has been highly objectionable, from banning protests despite their peaceful nature, clamping Section 144, closing down internet and mobile services totally unnecessarily only to prevent people from exercising their constitutional right.”

“Police were not content with this but went much beyond by attacking peaceful protesters as in Jamia Islamia on 15 December 2019 and later in many places like Meerut, Bijnor, Seemapuri in Delhi, Varanasi, Mangalore etc., where they not only broke protesters arms, legs and skull and killed about two dozen protesters but also invaded private homes smashing whatever they found.”

People’s Tribunal

In January, 2020, the Jury of People’s Tribunal took into account the fact-finding reports by Karwan-e-Mohabbat team, an NGO headed by Harsh Mander that travelled to parts of Uttar Pradesh to gather information on the collapse of rule of law.

As per Scroll, the jury comprised of Justices A.P. Shah, Sudarshan Reddy, V. Gopala Gowda and others. Deeply dismayed at what was presented to the jury, they stated that, “the very state administration that is charged with protecting the rule of law is perpetrating violence upon its own people”, reported The Wire.

“It is convinced that the entire state machinery, led from the top, acted with grave prejudice and perpetrated violence targeting one particular community, the state’s Muslim population, and the social activists leading the movement,” a statement from the jury said.

Former IPS officer and social activist S.R. Darapuri also testified in front of the tribunal and said, “The police arrested me at 11:30 am and changed the time in FIR to 7 pm, and didn’t allow me to call my lawyer.” He also accused the police of beating up people on the basis of their religious faith.

This extreme prejudice and institutional failure have caused many people their lives and several families to suffer enormously. The protest related violence in Uttar Pradesh has already claimed 21 lives and the arrest of more than 1,100 people. The outbreak of the pandemic and following lockdown had indefinitely postponed the citizenship verification plans but now that the country has opened up again, the fear has started looming in the minds of people who stand directly affected by the discriminatory law.

The Allahabad High Court order dated November 9 may be read here:


UP police go door-to-door; puts up hoardings of alleged anti-CAA protesters in town
UP admin sends third recovery notice for damage to property in anti-CAA protest
UP govt caused “unwarranted interference in privacy”, says HC



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