Supreme Court to take up Jamiat plea today against UP demolitions

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THE SUPREME Court will take up on Thursday a plea by Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind against the demolition of private properties in Uttar Pradesh in the wake of violent protests over derogatory remarks against the Prophet. The application has been listed before a vacation bench of Justices A S Bopanna and Vikram Nath.

The plea has sought a stay on any further demolition drive that the authorities may be planning to carry out in Kanpur district, which witnessed violence during the protests earlier this month.

On June 12, the Prayagraj administration cited violation of building norms and demolished the house of activist Mohammad Javed who, according to police, is one of the key conspirators behind the violence in the district.

The police have handed over a preliminary list of 37 accused in the protests to the Prayagraj Development Authority (PDA) to check for irregularities in their properties — and take action, if needed, including demolition.

The Jamiat application, which has been filed in a pending matter in which the apex court had stayed a demolition drive in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri, said the “adoption of such extra-legal measures is clearly in violation of the principles of natural justice, especially when this Hon’ble Court is hearing the present matter”.

In the Jahangirpuri matter, the Supreme Court had refused to order any blanket ban on demolitions across the country.

The Jamiat said in its fresh plea that following the violence in Kanpur, “a number of persons in authority have stated in the media that the properties of suspects/ accused would be confiscated and demolished”.

“Even the Chief Minister of the state has said in the media that the houses of accused persons would be razed using bulldozers. The Additional Director General (Law and Order), Mr. Prashant Kumar, and Commissioner of Police of Kanpur, Mr. Vijay Singh Meena, too, has reiterated that the properties of the accused would be seized and demolished,” it stated.

The plea urged the top court to direct the UP government to ensure that “no precipitative action be taken in Kanpur District against the residential or commercial property of any accused in any criminal proceedings as an extra-legal punitive measure”.

It also sought directions for the state to “ensure that any demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing is given to each of the affected persons”.

It also prayed for directions that “residential accommodation” or “any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure”.

It said that “demolition exercise of any nature must be carried out strictly in accordance with applicable laws, and only after due notice and opportunity of hearing to each of the affected persons — as mandated by this Hon’ble Court”.

The UP Police have arrested over 350 people from nine districts for their alleged role in the protests against remarks made by BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal. The BJP subsequently suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal.