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Under Supreme Court Pressure Yogi Govt Withdraws Notices to Anti-CAA Protesters

Women’s protest at Ghantaghar in Lucknow against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). — IANS file photo

“You have become complainant; you have become witness; you have become prosecutor… and then you attach properties of people. Is it permissible under any law?,” SC bench asked UP gov’s law officer

LUCKNOW — The Uttar Pradesh government has withdrawn notice sent to the anti-CAA protesters seeking to recover damages after the Supreme Court pointed out last week that the state may have overreached itself.

The Yogi government had issued notices to seize properties of people involved in the December 2019 protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

“The state government has withdrawn the notices for the recovery of damages,” said a senior officer.

According to the officials, additional district magistrates (ADMs), who headed the recovery claims tribunals in different districts, issued 274 notices for recovery of damages. including 95 issued to protesters in Lucknow.

On February 11, the Supreme Court observed that the state government had not followed due process.

“You have become complainant; you have become witness; you have become prosecutor… and then you attach properties of people. Is it permissible under any law?” a bench of Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant had asked the state government’s law officer.

In an earlier case, the apex court observed in 2009 that the power to compute damages and investigate liability for destruction of public property is to be exercised either by a serving or retired high court judge or a retired district judge as a claims’ commissioner.

The anti-CAA protests turned violent at some places in December 2019. Some protesters allegedly vandalised and torched public property in many cities, including Lucknow.

The state government issued notices to recover the cost of properties damaged, relying on the Allahabad high court’s 2011 judgment in Mohammad Shujauddin versus State of UP case. It, however, ignored the Supreme Court guidelines issued in 2009 and subsequently in 2018.

“If the state government has decided to withdraw notices, it’s a welcome move. But the government has done so under the pressure of Supreme Court,” said SR Darapuri, a former IPS officer, who too was given a notice. — IANS

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