Illegal Demolitions By States Are Collective Punishment: Jamiat To SC
The Jamiat Ulama i Hind alleged that the Uttar Pradesh government was cherry-picking laws to demolish private properties in a systematic & widespread manner.
The Jamiat Ulama-i-hind told the Supreme Court that the demolition of private properties must not be seen as individual cases, rather they indicate a pattern of 'collective punishment'. The same pattern is being copied by governments in states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and New Delhi as well.
The Muslim body denied Uttar Pradesh government's allegations that it cherry-picked cases to falsely link them with rioters and give mala fide colour to lawful action. The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said it was the UP govt that cherry-picked laws to demolish private properties in a systematic and widespread manner as a method of collective punishment of pre-judgment of alleged criminality masquerading as "justice".
The Jamiat had filed a plea in the Supreme Court alleging that houses of those accused in violent protests were being demolished as an extra-legal punitive measure. The plea was filed when several homes of those accused were razed following violent protests over BJP leader Nupur Sharma's comments on Prophet. Violent protests had broken out in several places like Delhi, Prayagraj, Kanpur, and Ranchi. Properties of those accused of organising protests were demolished later.
'Individual Demolitions must be seen as a pattern of collective punishment'
The Jamiat ulama-i-hind said it was citing individual cases of demolition to demonstrate the pattern adopted by the UP government to punish persons for their purported involvement in illegal acts such as riots in complete disregard of the rule of law and the principles of natural justice.
The Muslim body said the victims whose homes were 'illegally' razed have already approached respective high courts for justice; the Jamiat was not seeking intervention in these cases. By citing individual cases where private properties were razed as punitive measures, it was simply demonstrating by example this method of collective retribution, the affidavit said.
"These acts of the government seriously undermine the criminal justice system of our country and should not be viewed as individual, separate events; rather the courts need to consider and take cognizance of the same," the rejoinder read. The affidavit further said if the governments aren't stopped from employing such measures, there will be a risk of 'loss of faith' in courts of the society at large and could lead to lawlessness in the country.
The affidavit filed by advocate Sarim Naved cited the statements of 'officials occupying important positions endorsing such measures' as an important indicator that the demolitions are not individual actions against illegal encroachment but are in fact part of a pattern adopted by the states to punish persons for their purported criminal acts, especially in cases of riots.
The Muslim body also alleged that actions like demolitions following law and order situations are driven by 'political executives' using the police as a medium under the garb of action taken by the municipal authorities.
"During each instance of demolition as retribution, statements have been made either by high-level political functionaries or by the Police Authorities, and none of the concerned police officers has disputed or denied the statements made to visual media as well as print media by the senior police functionaries," the affidavit said.
The affidavit further said that a 'thorough perusal of demolitions done in the last few months will reveal that action has been 'purely and simply an executive overreach of meting out criminal justice, particularly against dissent'.
The affidavit also noted that the UP government hasn't responded to the fact that any high-ranking functionaries, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, making statements about the demolition of properties of those accused in 'riots' as a punitive measure for their acts.