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A day after demolition of the house of a political activist, accused in Prayagraj violence that broke out in the wake of protests over remarks on the Prophet, the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking stay on any further demolition drive that the authorities may be planning to carry out in Kanpur.
On Sunday, the Prayagraj administration razed the house of political activist and businessman Mohammad Javed citing alleged violation of building norms. According to police, Javed is one of the key conspirators behind the violence that broke out in the city on June 10 after protests over remarks on the Prophet by two now suspended BJP spokespersons, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal. Kanpur had witnessed similar violence during protests on June 3.
On Monday, the Jamiat filed a fresh application in a pending matter in which the SC had, in April, stayed the demolition drive in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri.
The outfit in its plea said 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 have reiterated that the properties of accused would be seized and demolished”.
The plea said that 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”.
The plea urged the top court to direct the Uttar Pradesh government 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” and “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”.
Notably, in the Jahangirpuri plea, the SC had refused to order any blanket ban on demolitions across the country.
“It is pertinent to note that in the present matter this Hon’ble Court ordered stay of demolitions that were being carried out as a punitive measure in Northwest Delhi in similar circumstances. Hence, considering that the captioned matter is currently pending before this Hon’ble Court, resorting to such measures is even more alarming”, said the plea.
It added that “even as per Section 10 of the Uttar Pradesh (Regulation of Building Operations) Act, 1958, demolition of a building shall not be undertaken unless the affected person is given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Further, Section 27 of the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973 also requires that the affected person be heard before proceeding with the demolition and be given at least 15 days’ notice. Moreover, as per the Act a person aggrieved with order of demolition is entitled to appeal against it to the Chairman within a period of 30 days of the order”.
The plea requested the court to ask authorities to ensure that police personnel are provided training in handling communal riots and situations.
“Lastly, it is also prayed that it be directed that ministers, legislators and anybody unconnected with the criminal investigation to be restrained from apportioning criminal responsibility regarding criminal action publicly or through any official communication until determination by a criminal court.”
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