Former judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and senior lawyers have written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana urging the apex court to take suo motu cognizance of the demolition of houses of protesters by the Uttar Pradesh State authorities and detention of many such protesters.

The letter signed by 12 former judges and senior lawyers has urged the Court to intervene to arrest the “deteriorating law and order situation” in Uttar Pradesh.

The signatories to the letter are:

1. Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy (Former judge of Supreme Court of India);

2. Justice V. Gopala Gowda (Former judge of Supreme Court of India);

3. Justice A.K. Ganguly, (Former judge of Supreme Court of India);

4. Justice AP Shah (Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and former Chairperson, Law Commission of India);

5. Justice K Chandru (Former Judge of Madras High Court);

6. Justice Mohammed Anwar (Former Judge of Karnataka High Court);

7. Shanti Bhushan (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court);

8. Indira Jaisingh (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court);

9. Chander Uday Singh (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court);

10. Sriram Panchu (Senior Advocate, Madras High Court);

11. Prashant Bhushan (Advocate, Supreme Court);

12. Anand Grover (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court).

The letter highlighted how recent remarks made by certain BJP spokespersons (since suspended from office) on the Prophet Mohammed have resulted in protests in multiple parts of the country, and particularly in UP.

“Instead of giving protesters an opportunity of being heard and engaging in peaceful protests, the UP state administration appears to have sanctioned taking violent action against such individuals. The Chief Minister has reportedly officially exhorted officials “to take such action against those guilty that it sets an example so that no one commits a crime or takes law into their hands in future,” the letter said.

Signatories to the letter
Signatories to the letter
The remarks by the Chief Minister have emboldened police to brutally and unlawfully torture protesters, the letter alleged.

“Pursuant to this, the UP police have arrested more than 300 persons and registered FIRs against protesting citizens. Videos of young men in police custody being beaten with lathis, houses of protestors being demolished without notice or any cause of action and protestors from the minority Muslim community being chased and beaten by the police, are circulating on social media, shaking the conscience of the nation,” it was stated.

Such a brutal clampdown by a ruling 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, it was further alleged.

“The coordinated manner in which the police and development authorities have acted lead to the clear conclusion that demolitions are a form of collective extra judicial punishment, attributable to a state policy which is illegal,” the letter said.

The judiciary’s mettle is tested during such times and it has risen to the occasion in the past, the letter said highlighting how it had taken suo motu action in migrant workers matter and also passed orders in the Pegasus case.

“In the same spirit, and in its role as custodian of the Constitution, we therefore urge the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take immediately take suo motu action to arrest the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, specifically involving the high-handedness of the police and state authorities, and the brutal clampdown on the fundamental rights of citizens,” the letter urged.
We hope and trust the Supreme Court will rise to the occasion and not let the citizens and the Constitution down at this critical juncture, it added.