No law to back your actions: SC to UP govt. defending ‘name and shame’ posters

The SC has not put a stay on the Allahabad HC order, but has referred the matter to a larger constitution bench

UP Police

On Thursday, in the matter of the hoardings put up by the Uttar Pradesh government of the alleged anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors demanding compensation for damage to property, the Supreme Court said there was no law to support that the government could put up such hoardings with the names, photographs and addresses of such persons.

A vacation bench of the Allahabad High Court was hearing a special leave petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh government against the Allahabad HC’s order to remove the hoardings that were put up to ‘name and shame’ the alleged protestors in Lucknow.

While the court refused to stay the order currently, it has referred the matter to a three-judge regular bench.

A bench comprising Justices UU Lalit and Aniruddha Bose said that the matter involves “issues which need further consideration by a bench of sufficient strength,” reported Live Law. “The wrong-doer must be brought to book. But can the state go beyond that?” Justice UU Lalit observed, asking if the state government has the power to put up such hoardings. “State can do things permitted by law. Where is the State’s power to do this?” Justice Lalit added, “As of now, there is no law that can back your actions.”

Appearing for the UP government, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta the hoardings bearing the names of 57 people who were alleged rioters were put up after following processes of law and especially put up as a deterrent. He also argued that once a person had been videographed to be indulging in violent activities in public places, he cannot claim protection of right to privacy.

The bench of the Justices asked the SG if the perpetrators could be “castigated for all times”, while noting that the time for payment was still available for accused persons and their petitions challenging the recovery proceedings were still pending.

Appearing for former IPS officer SR Darapuri whose name was published on the hoardings said that the action of the government amounted to an “appeal for lynching”, pointing out that the names of rapists or serious criminals were never published publicly by the government. “We don’t have an anarchy in the state that the government will start doing this,” he said.

Senior Adovcate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Rihai Manch lawyer Mohammad Shoaib said that his client had faced assaults in the past for taking up the causes of minorities and could possibly be lynched post the publication of his name and address in the banners.

Senior Advocate CU Singh said that the UP government was following a vindictive approach. He said, “The source of such power to put up hoardings must emanate from a law, not from guidelines or executive orders.”

The Allahabad HC had then taken suo motu cognizance of the matter on March 9 while ordering the government to take them down and calling the government’s action a “shameless and unwarranted interference in privacy.” The HC had also said that the government’s move was in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The HC judgement read, “In the present case, the cause is not about personal injury caused to the persons whose personal details are given in the banner but 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 times should behave in manner that upholds constitutional and democratic values.”


UP govt caused “unwarranted interference in privacy”, says HC

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