Prophet row: Ex-judges, lawyers urge CJI to stop UP govt’s illegal action

Amidst a ‘deteriorating law and order’ condition in Uttar Pradesh following protests on Friday, advocates, former high court judges, and Supreme Court judges have demanded suo-moto cognizance of the ‘illegal’ activities of the Yogi Adityanath-led state government, on protestors accused of violence.

In a petition letter addressed to the Chief justice of India, NV Ramana, 12 jurists including former Supreme Court judges and advocates, demanded that suo-moto cognizance of the ‘illegal detentions, bulldozing of residences and police violence on protestors and those in police custody, following protests against certain objectionable remarks made by BJP spokespersons.’

After protests against the now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her remarks on Prophet Muhammad, turned violent on Friday, the UP authorities arrested, Welfare Part Of India’s leader, Javed Mohammad, allegedly without a warrant, and razed his house after accusing him of being the main conspirator.

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They urged the CJI to take immediate cognizance of the violence and repression of the citizens of UP by the state authorities.

The jurists stated that instead of giving the accused an opportunity to be heard and engaging in peaceful protests, the state swung into swift action reportedly prompted by the chief minister who urged them “to take such action against those guilty and set an example so that no one commits a crime or takes the law into their hands in future.”

They also alleged that the police booked the accused under the National Security Act 1980, and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, under the CM’s directions which has “emboldened the police to brutally and unlawfully torture protestors.”

Following the protests, videos of the police brutally thrashing those arrested surfaced on social media. The riling administration then sought to ‘illegally’ arrest and raze the houses of others accused of violence.

“Such a brutal clampdown by a riling administration is an unacceptable subversion of the rule of law and a violation of the rights of citizens and makes a mockery of the Constitution and fundamental rights guaranteed by the state,” read the petition letter.

They also stated that the action taken by the police and the authorities are forms of “collective extra-judicial punishment, attributable to a state policy which is illegal”.

The letter petition has been written by the following: Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy, Former Judge, Supreme Court – Justice V. Gopala Gowda, Former Judge, Supreme Court -Justice A.K. Ganguly, Former Judge, Supreme Court – Justice A P Shah, Former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court – Justice K. Chandru, Former Judge, Madras High Court and Justice Mohammed Anwar, Former Judge, Karnataka High Court have signed the petition.

Apart from former judges, Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court – Indira Jaisingh, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Chander Uday Singh, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court – Sriram Panchu, Senior Advocate, Madras High Court, Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court, and Anand Grover, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court are a part of the petition letter submitted to the CJI.

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