Bulldozers not used to punish rioters, UP govt tells Supreme Court
Amid controversy over Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's 'bulldozer politics', the Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that no property in the state was demolished to punish those accused of participating in violent protests.
Bulldozer Row: Amid controversy over Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's 'bulldozer politics', the Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that no property in the state was demolished to punish those accused of participating in violent protests.
The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government clarified that the bulldozers demolished the illegal constructions as per the municipal laws and after providing a reasonable opportunity to the violators.
Submitting its affidavit in response to a court notice issued on June 16, the state government justified action by its municipal authorities in Kanpur and Prayagraj, where three properties were demolished, when now suspended for their remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
Violent protests were held against suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled party leader Naveen Jindal. Protests were held in these big cities of Uttar Pradesh (UP) on June 3 and June 10.
The Yogi Adityanath government, in its affidavit, has taken a clear stand that these demolitions "had nothing to do with the riots", and that the demolition drive was against encroachment and illegal constructions under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1972.
"It is humbly submitted that so far as action is concerned against the persons accused of rioting, the State Government is taking coercive action against them in accordance with a completely different law," the affidavit said.
The Criminal Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code, the UP Gangster and Anti-Social Activity (Prevention) Act, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the UP Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Act have been cited as relevant.
Arguing that two applications filed by Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind that the UP government should be restrained from any further demolition of properties, with a monetary penalty, should be dismissed, the affidavit said. The organization has "deliberately withheld true facts to paint a nefarious picture of alleged malpractices on the part of the administration".
"The petitioner (Jamiat) has attempted to give a malicious tint to the legal action taken by the local development authorities in accordance with the procedure established by law by extrapolating the one-sided media reporting of certain incidents and the wider allegations against the State," the affidavit said.
"The same, it has been submitted, is completely wrong and misleading," it added.
Regarding the two partially demolished properties in Kanpur, the affidavit revealed that proceedings under municipal law were initiated long before the riots in June (in one case, in August 2020 and in the other, in February 2020).
Further, in both these cases the affidavit states that the violators accepted illegal constructions and applied for compounding of acts by paying appropriate fees, besides demolishing the non-compoundable parts.
With regard to the demolition of a part of a housed owned by Muslim leader Mohammad Javed Pump in Prayagraj on June 12, the state argued that the show-cause notice was issued on May 10 for unauthorized construction and illegal use of residential premises for commercial use after several residents it was done. The people of the area had complained about this.
The affidavit states that the family members had pasted the notice on the wall of the building after refusing to take the notice, stating that Mohammad himself was given 15 days to demolish the illegal construction, but no Did not benefit.
As the illegal construction was not demolished by them, another notice was issued on 10 June asking them to vacate the premises, following which the property was demolished on 12 June.
The Supreme Court is expected to consider Jamiat's application on June 24. On the last date of hearing, the top court sought a response from the state government on the demolition of the properties, while observing that the demolition should be in accordance with law and not as retaliation.
A bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath said on June 16, "We know that no demolition can happen without notice and without following due procedures. Everything should look fair. It should not be done without following due process. Our concern is that the rule of law should be followed in every case."
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