Ex-judges, lawyers urge SC: Protect fundamental rights of citizens in UP

A group of advocates and former judges have written to Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, urging the Supreme Court “to take suo motu cognisance of recent incidents of violence and repression by state authorities on citizens in Uttar Pradesh” following protests over remarks on the Prophet by two now suspended BJP spokespersons.

The letter has been signed by retired SC judges Justice B Sudarshan Reddy, V Gopala Gowda and A K Ganguly, former High Court judges Justices A P Shah, K Chandru and Mohammed Anwar, and senior advocates Shanti Bhushan, Indira Jaisingh, Chander Uday Singh, Sriram Panchu and Anand Grover and advocate Prashant Bhushan.

It contended that “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 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”. He has further directed that the National Security Act-1980, and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act-1986, be invoked against those found guilty of unlawful protests. It is these remarks that have emboldened the police to brutally and unlawfully torture protesters”.

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

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It further said that “the mettle of the judiciary is tested in such critical times. On many occasions, including in the recent past, the judiciary has faced such challenges and emerged with distinction as the custodian of the rights of the people”.

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