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Demolitions by the playbook, unprecedented even in pre-independence India: Senior Counsel to SC in Bulldozer Injustice case

SC orders no ‘out of turn demolitions’ to take place until next hearing date i.e. June 21

Sabrangindia 16 Jun 2022

SC

Today the Supreme Court heard two separate Intervention Applications (IA), filed by Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind (JUIH) on June 13, in connection with the demolitions of homes of alleged rioters in Uttar Pradesh. JUIH was the original petitioner in the matter pertaining to the demolitions carried out in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area. It has now sought an urgent and comprehensive stay on demolitions as well as related directions to the state of Uttar Pradesh and its police force to refrain from illegal and malafide actions in demolishing homes of alleged accused in Kanpur, Sahranpur and Prayagraj (Allahabad).

While the Court did not order a complete stay on the demolitions, the vacation bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath ordered that no out of turn demolitions are to take place until the next date of hearing i.e. June 21.  The court prohibited the Uttar Pradesh government from carrying out demolition activities without following the due process of law. Granting three days time to the State to file an affidavit explaining how the demolitions undertaken were under the law, the court reportedly stated, “Action will only be in accordance with law.”

“We also keep seeing, we are also part of society. We also see what’s happening. Sometimes we have also formed some impressions. In someone’s case of grievance, if this court doesn’t come to rescue, it’s not proper. We have a duty. We should ensure safety in the meantime. It should look fair,” said Justice Bopanna.

At the time of the Jahangirpuri petition, while staying that illegal act, the highest court had refused a blanket stay on all demolitions telling senior counsel, Kapil Sibal, “You can always approach us when these are repeated.”

Senior Counsel Chander Uday Singh appearing for the petitioner brought to the court’s attention the status quo order regarding the Jahangirpuri demolitions which the court thought would cover the issue. He pressed upon the fact that even though notice was issued in the original writ petition pertaining to UP but interim order wasn’t expressly issued in that matter, demolitions have taken place in UP which is nothing less than a sheer contempt of court.

He reportedly stated, “Demolitions in UP are happening by the playbook. This is appalling and shocking in a Republic. This can’t be countenanced in a Republic and in a country with rule of law. We haven’t seen this in this country, not during the Emergency, not in pre-independence India.”

Alleging that there is an overarching case of malafide, Senior Counsel Huzefa Ahmedi asked the court, “Why was there cherry picking of persons from the FIRs when dealing with demolition proceedings?”

The bench inquired if any prior proceedings were held against the properties that have been demolished, to which Singh responded, “No prior proceedings took place. Demolitions were justified on the basis of illegal construction and highest functionaries from UP CM and downward have said bulldozers will be employed against those who take law into their own hands.”

It was argued that even if the property was unauthorised, notice of not less than 15 days is to be given to the person responsible or owner to themselves remove the illegal construction as per section 27 of the UP Urban Planning Act.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the petitioner Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind is not the affected party to approach the court. He reportedly stated, “Someone has to come and say on the affidavit that the law is not followed. It's an omnibus petition by an omnibus organisation seeking omnibus relief.”

Justice Bopanna remarked, “We have to be conscious of the fact that those people whose houses are demolished may not be able to approach the Court.”

Senior Advocate Harish Salve reportedly added, “There are three instances. In Prayagraj notice was issued in May, much before the riots. On 25 May, a demolition order was passed. And the property is valuable, so people are not those who could not approach.”

Latest Intervention Applications

The first plea, filed afresh now, on June 12, relates to Kanpur demolitions in particular, has sought a stay on any further demolition drives that the authorities may be planning to carry out in Kanpur district, which witnessed violence during the protests earlier this month. Kanpur was the first city in India to experience violence following the protests against (the now suspended) BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma.

On the afternoon of June 3, following Friday prayers, attempts to shut down shops had resulted in stone pelting and violence by the police. Following its now established high-handed and unlawful procedure, the authorities had proceeded to name, blame and then proceed to demolish the homes/properties of alleged accused behind the violence. The Jamiat said in its fresh plea that following the violence in Kanpur, “a number of persons in authority have stated in the media that the properties of suspects/ accused would be confiscated and demolished.”

“Even the Chief Minister of the state has said in the media that the houses of accused persons would be razed using bulldozers. The Additional Director General (Law and Order), Mr. Prashant Kumar, and Commissioner of Police of Kanpur, Mr. Vijay Singh Meena, too, has reiterated that the properties of the accused would be seized and demolished,” the application states.

The plea urged the top court to direct the UP government to ensure that “no precipitative action be taken in Kanpur District against the residential or commercial property of any accused in any criminal proceedings as an extra-legal punitive measure.” An article in The Hindustan Times had reported these statements of the top echelons of the police. Other media reports had revealed that of the three FIRs registered by the Kanpur police, in which 1,000 unnamed accused were listed, 55 named accused were all Muslim suggesting a partisan gaze.

The second intervention application, relates to the brazen demolition in Prayagraj (Allahabad) that was carried out in full public view on June 12, on the home of Parveen Fatima, mother of youth activist Afreen Fatima and wife of political activist Javed Mohammad. Claiming (without any investigation) that Javed Mohammad was one of the “masterminds” in the Prayagraj stone pelting that took place last Friday, the UP police – after serving a hurried post-dated one-day previous notice – had simply arrived on the spot in Kareli and brought down Parveen Fatima’s ancestral home last Sunday. An intimidating presence of 2,000 plus police and riot police prevented any citizens from protesting this brazenly illegal act.

The second intervention application states that the Prayagraj administration cited violation of building norms and demolished the house. The IA also states that the police have handed over a preliminary list of 37 accused in the protests to the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) to check for irregularities in their properties — and take action, if needed, including demolition. All these persons face a potential threat of the same kind faced by the family of Afreen Fatima.

Explicit directions have been sought from the Supreme Court by the petitioner/intervener to “ensure that any demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing is given to each of the affected persons.” It also prayed for directions that “residential accommodation” or “any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure.”

Stating that such a “demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing to each of the affected persons — as mandated by this Hon’ble Court”, the IA which will be heard this morning seeks judicial intervention on the high-handed activities of the executive.

The applications point out that even under Section 10 of the Uttar Pradesh (Regulation of Building 7 Operations) Act, 1958, demolition of a building shall not be undertaken unless the affected person is given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Further, Section 27 of the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973 also requires that the affected person be heard before proceeding with the demolition and be given at least 15 days’ notice. Moreover, as per the Act a person aggrieved with order of demolition is entitled to appeal against it to the Chairman within a period of 30 days of the order.

Therefore, it has been stated that the decision of proceeding with demolition of properties of accused persons is clearly illegal and doing so without providing a reason for the opportunity of hearing is also in violation of the municipal laws of the state, as well as violating principles of natural justice. Hence, such plans of the state of proceeding with vengeance are against our democratic values and resultantly, weaken the justice delivery system of the state. Based on the law, the interveners argue that it would be in the interest of justice that any demolition drive that the authorities are planning to carry out in Kanpur District, Prayagraj (Allahabad), Sahranpur or anywhere in Uttar Pradesh are stayed during the pendency of the instant writ petition.

The order may be read here:

Related:

SC to hear urgent petitions against UP demolitions today

Bulldozer Injustice: Homes of June 10 rioters to be demolished?

Anti-CAA Muslim activist Afreen Fatima’s family members illegally detained!

Spontaneous pan-India protests against Nupur Sharma

Friday protests: More people booked for unlawful assembly

Why is Jharkhand governor in favour of doxing alleged riot participants’ names?

Friday protests: At least 325 arrests in UP alone!

Jahangirpuri Demolition: SC to take “serious view of demolitions after Mayor was informed of order”

Bengaluru Police raid, tear down homes of Bengali Muslim migrants

Demolitions by the playbook, unprecedented even in pre-independence India: Senior Counsel to SC in Bulldozer Injustice case

SC orders no ‘out of turn demolitions’ to take place until next hearing date i.e. June 21

SC

Today the Supreme Court heard two separate Intervention Applications (IA), filed by Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind (JUIH) on June 13, in connection with the demolitions of homes of alleged rioters in Uttar Pradesh. JUIH was the original petitioner in the matter pertaining to the demolitions carried out in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri area. It has now sought an urgent and comprehensive stay on demolitions as well as related directions to the state of Uttar Pradesh and its police force to refrain from illegal and malafide actions in demolishing homes of alleged accused in Kanpur, Sahranpur and Prayagraj (Allahabad).

While the Court did not order a complete stay on the demolitions, the vacation bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath ordered that no out of turn demolitions are to take place until the next date of hearing i.e. June 21.  The court prohibited the Uttar Pradesh government from carrying out demolition activities without following the due process of law. Granting three days time to the State to file an affidavit explaining how the demolitions undertaken were under the law, the court reportedly stated, “Action will only be in accordance with law.”

“We also keep seeing, we are also part of society. We also see what’s happening. Sometimes we have also formed some impressions. In someone’s case of grievance, if this court doesn’t come to rescue, it’s not proper. We have a duty. We should ensure safety in the meantime. It should look fair,” said Justice Bopanna.

At the time of the Jahangirpuri petition, while staying that illegal act, the highest court had refused a blanket stay on all demolitions telling senior counsel, Kapil Sibal, “You can always approach us when these are repeated.”

Senior Counsel Chander Uday Singh appearing for the petitioner brought to the court’s attention the status quo order regarding the Jahangirpuri demolitions which the court thought would cover the issue. He pressed upon the fact that even though notice was issued in the original writ petition pertaining to UP but interim order wasn’t expressly issued in that matter, demolitions have taken place in UP which is nothing less than a sheer contempt of court.

He reportedly stated, “Demolitions in UP are happening by the playbook. This is appalling and shocking in a Republic. This can’t be countenanced in a Republic and in a country with rule of law. We haven’t seen this in this country, not during the Emergency, not in pre-independence India.”

Alleging that there is an overarching case of malafide, Senior Counsel Huzefa Ahmedi asked the court, “Why was there cherry picking of persons from the FIRs when dealing with demolition proceedings?”

The bench inquired if any prior proceedings were held against the properties that have been demolished, to which Singh responded, “No prior proceedings took place. Demolitions were justified on the basis of illegal construction and highest functionaries from UP CM and downward have said bulldozers will be employed against those who take law into their own hands.”

It was argued that even if the property was unauthorised, notice of not less than 15 days is to be given to the person responsible or owner to themselves remove the illegal construction as per section 27 of the UP Urban Planning Act.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the petitioner Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind is not the affected party to approach the court. He reportedly stated, “Someone has to come and say on the affidavit that the law is not followed. It's an omnibus petition by an omnibus organisation seeking omnibus relief.”

Justice Bopanna remarked, “We have to be conscious of the fact that those people whose houses are demolished may not be able to approach the Court.”

Senior Advocate Harish Salve reportedly added, “There are three instances. In Prayagraj notice was issued in May, much before the riots. On 25 May, a demolition order was passed. And the property is valuable, so people are not those who could not approach.”

Latest Intervention Applications

The first plea, filed afresh now, on June 12, relates to Kanpur demolitions in particular, has sought a stay on any further demolition drives that the authorities may be planning to carry out in Kanpur district, which witnessed violence during the protests earlier this month. Kanpur was the first city in India to experience violence following the protests against (the now suspended) BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma.

On the afternoon of June 3, following Friday prayers, attempts to shut down shops had resulted in stone pelting and violence by the police. Following its now established high-handed and unlawful procedure, the authorities had proceeded to name, blame and then proceed to demolish the homes/properties of alleged accused behind the violence. The Jamiat said in its fresh plea that following the violence in Kanpur, “a number of persons in authority have stated in the media that the properties of suspects/ accused would be confiscated and demolished.”

“Even the Chief Minister of the state has said in the media that the houses of accused persons would be razed using bulldozers. The Additional Director General (Law and Order), Mr. Prashant Kumar, and Commissioner of Police of Kanpur, Mr. Vijay Singh Meena, too, has reiterated that the properties of the accused would be seized and demolished,” the application states.

The plea urged the top court to direct the UP government to ensure that “no precipitative action be taken in Kanpur District against the residential or commercial property of any accused in any criminal proceedings as an extra-legal punitive measure.” An article in The Hindustan Times had reported these statements of the top echelons of the police. Other media reports had revealed that of the three FIRs registered by the Kanpur police, in which 1,000 unnamed accused were listed, 55 named accused were all Muslim suggesting a partisan gaze.

The second intervention application, relates to the brazen demolition in Prayagraj (Allahabad) that was carried out in full public view on June 12, on the home of Parveen Fatima, mother of youth activist Afreen Fatima and wife of political activist Javed Mohammad. Claiming (without any investigation) that Javed Mohammad was one of the “masterminds” in the Prayagraj stone pelting that took place last Friday, the UP police – after serving a hurried post-dated one-day previous notice – had simply arrived on the spot in Kareli and brought down Parveen Fatima’s ancestral home last Sunday. An intimidating presence of 2,000 plus police and riot police prevented any citizens from protesting this brazenly illegal act.

The second intervention application states that the Prayagraj administration cited violation of building norms and demolished the house. The IA also states that the police have handed over a preliminary list of 37 accused in the protests to the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) to check for irregularities in their properties — and take action, if needed, including demolition. All these persons face a potential threat of the same kind faced by the family of Afreen Fatima.

Explicit directions have been sought from the Supreme Court by the petitioner/intervener to “ensure that any demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing is given to each of the affected persons.” It also prayed for directions that “residential accommodation” or “any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure.”

Stating that such a “demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing to each of the affected persons — as mandated by this Hon’ble Court”, the IA which will be heard this morning seeks judicial intervention on the high-handed activities of the executive.

The applications point out that even under Section 10 of the Uttar Pradesh (Regulation of Building 7 Operations) Act, 1958, demolition of a building shall not be undertaken unless the affected person is given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Further, Section 27 of the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973 also requires that the affected person be heard before proceeding with the demolition and be given at least 15 days’ notice. Moreover, as per the Act a person aggrieved with order of demolition is entitled to appeal against it to the Chairman within a period of 30 days of the order.

Therefore, it has been stated that the decision of proceeding with demolition of properties of accused persons is clearly illegal and doing so without providing a reason for the opportunity of hearing is also in violation of the municipal laws of the state, as well as violating principles of natural justice. Hence, such plans of the state of proceeding with vengeance are against our democratic values and resultantly, weaken the justice delivery system of the state. Based on the law, the interveners argue that it would be in the interest of justice that any demolition drive that the authorities are planning to carry out in Kanpur District, Prayagraj (Allahabad), Sahranpur or anywhere in Uttar Pradesh are stayed during the pendency of the instant writ petition.

The order may be read here:

Related:

SC to hear urgent petitions against UP demolitions today

Bulldozer Injustice: Homes of June 10 rioters to be demolished?

Anti-CAA Muslim activist Afreen Fatima’s family members illegally detained!

Spontaneous pan-India protests against Nupur Sharma

Friday protests: More people booked for unlawful assembly

Why is Jharkhand governor in favour of doxing alleged riot participants’ names?

Friday protests: At least 325 arrests in UP alone!

Jahangirpuri Demolition: SC to take “serious view of demolitions after Mayor was informed of order”

Bengaluru Police raid, tear down homes of Bengali Muslim migrants

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