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

The governor, a BJP member, suggested “naming and shaming” those who allegedly engaged in violence during anti-Nupur Sharma protests in the state

Jharkhand governor Ramesh Bias had summoned DGP Neeraj SinhaIImage: The Indian Express

In wake of Nupur Sharma’s objectionable comments about Prophet Mohammed in a television news debate, protests broke out in different states across the country. And even though the Bharatiya Janata (BJP) expelled her from her post as the spokesperson of the party and even the party’s primary membership, instances of protests turning violent have been reported from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jharkhand.

Now, according to a report in the Indian Express, Jharkhand governor Ramesh Bias had summoned DGP Neeraj Sinha and Deputy Commissioner Ranchi Chhavi Ranjan on Monday, and asked them to “make public names and addresses of all protesters and display their photographs on hoardings at main places so that the people can identify them and help the police.” The publication quoted a press release by the Public Relations Department of the Governor: “Find out details of all protestors and those who have been caught, make their names/addresses public, make their hoardings by displaying their photographs at main places in the city so that the public can also identify them and help police.” The release further quoted the Governor as saying, “People who are spreading rumours through or in social media about these incidents, have you identified them and taken any action against them? All such people need to be identified and punished.” This not only poses a threat to their privacy, but appears to be an intimidation tactic, a page straight out of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s playbook.

Readers would recall that pictures and names of people who had participated in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) had been displayed on hoardings in Lucknow. As many as 57 persons were named and with their addresses and photographs put up on posters and hoardings. They were accused of being part of the violence during the protests. The alleged protestors were also arbitrarily asked to pay huge sums compensation for “damage to public property” that took place during the violence at the protest in December, 2019. The hoardings also said that if these people fail to pay up, their properties will be attached/confiscated. The total amount of damage to property listed in the hoardings was up to Rs. 1.55 crore. 

Before putting up these posters, UP Chief Minister had declared that properties of those involved in the violence would be seized and auctioned to compensate for destruction of public and private assets during the protests over the amended citizenship law and issued three recovery orders for the same. 

These activities prompted the Allahabad High Court to take suo motu cognisance and hold hearings on Sunday, March 8, 2020, observing injury to the right of privacy. It held that this incident amounted to gross negligence on part of public authorities and government. The Court deemed these actions of the state to be “colourable exercise of powers by the Executive” which amounted to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. The court also held that there was a valid apprehension of causing serious injury to the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It said that this caused injury 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 court remarked. It then directed the Lucknow administration to remove the banners and file a compliance report by March 16, 2020. 

The Uttar Pradesh Government then approached the Supreme Court challenging the High Court order which was finally heard by Justices UU Lalit and Aniruddha Bose. On March 12, 2020, the Apex Court refusing to stay the operation of the High Court order held that the ‘name and shame banner’ was not backed by law, highlighting the value of Privacy as the Allahabad High Court did. It referred the matter to a larger Bench for consideration. In July 2020, Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to not proceed with earlier notices issued to alleged protestors for recovering losses caused by damage to public property during the agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). Instead, the court asked the state government to follow the new law and the rules laid down thereunder to recover damages.

In February 2022, Uttar Pradesh government was given one week to show the Supreme Court how Additional District Magistrates (ADMs) supervise recovery based on notices issued to people who had protested the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) “prior to the legislation” and show “that notices issued before the Act were not in contravention to Supreme Court directions”. The Apex court pulled up Uttar Pradesh government and warned it will quash notices itself.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant said that they are taking note that Additional District Magistrates (ADMs) and not judicial officers, as mandated by the apex court, had adjudicated recovery notices to pay damages for destruction caused to public property during protests in December 2019, even before the Act came into force on January 10, 2020. The SC said that they were in contravention of guidelines laid down by the court. Justice Surya Kant reportedly told UP Additional Advocate General Garima Prashad, “You have become complainant, you have become adjudicator, and then you are attaching property of the accused.” Justice Chandrachud reportedly asked, “When we had directed that adjudication has to be done by a judicial officer, how is ADM conducting proceedings?”

The court was referring to its 2009 ruling that the Claims Commissioner, who will estimate damages in such cases and investigate liability, will be a judge. Under fire from the SC, the UP Government withdrew the notices on February 14 and 15, and directed the cases to be overseen by the Tribunals constituted under the Recovery of Damages To Public and Private Property Act 2020. But in March, the state government initiated fresh proceedings against them for allegedly damaging public property. Since the state government failed to recover the damages in its previous attempt under Supreme Court orders, they now decided to claim damages through the Claims Tribunal established under the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2021. As per the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2021, persons found guilty by claims tribunals of damaging government or private properties will face imprisonment of one year or a fine ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1 lakh.


Despite SC rap, UP Claims Tribunal issues notice to recover damages from anti-CAA protesters

Under fire from SC, UP gov’t withdraws damage notices against anti-CAA protesters

Supreme Court takes UP gov’t to task over notices issued to anti-CAA protesters

UP’s damage to property law contravenes SC guidelines

A 2020 report on Victims of Vilification: Anti-CAA protesters in Uttar Pradesh 




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