Supreme Court refuses to intervene in Uttar Pradesh demolitions

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The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to intervene in Uttar Pradesh demolitions. Court refused to grant an interim stay as sought in the applications filed against the demolitions of properties in Prayagraj and Kanpur and directed the authorities to follow due process of law.

A bench of Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Vikram Nath said that the notices against illegal construction may be issued and it should look fair.

The bench was hearing two applications filed in the pending petitions pertaining to the issue of demolition of properties in the Jahangirpuri area. The present application has been filed against the demolition of properties in Prayagraj and Kanpur.

Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh appearing for the applicant submitted that the earlier order of status-quo on the demolition was confined to Delhi. Singh further added that the statements are given by higher constitutional persons, the Chief Minister, and others that these are properties of rioters, stone pelters, etc. However, when the properties are demolished they justify it by calling it 'illegal'.

Singh further submitted that many a time these properties don't even belong to them, it is of their father or someone else.

"These statements by higher constitutional functionaries are unjustified. They make the statements that bulldozers will be deployed against the persons who have taken the laws into their own hands", Singh added.

Singh further added that there is a law in Uttar Pradesh, which says that a notice will be given where illegal construction is there, notice will be given to themselves remove the illegal construction and at least 15 days has to be given.

In addition to this, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for the petitioner submitted that there is a cherry-picking of persons and their properties are being demolished. "They say that we are going to bulldoze and we are going to demolish. They must be given some time to approach the Court," Ahmadi contended. 

Whereas, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Government said, "This is Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, none of their property is demolished, no person has approached who's property has been demolished."

However, the bench asked the Solicitor, not to go into the aspect of who filed what.

To which, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the administration, responded that the person who received notice doesn't say on the affidavit that they have not received a notice and some other person says that he read in a newspaper that the notice had not been given. That is why this becomes relevant, Salve said.

Salve further informed the bench that it is said that there are three cases, one instance was of Prayagraj and the other two cases were of Kanpur, the notice was given and as far as the third case is given, the first notice was given in 2020, later the property was sealed which was broken. In these cases, the media picks it up and twists it with some political aspect, he stressed.

Taking note of the submission, Court said that the objections on the applications may be filed by the respondents and asked the authorities to make sure that nothing untoward happens in the meantime. Court further allowed the authorities to issue notice to the offenders.

The bench has listed the matter for next week.

The main plea has been filed by Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind. The organization had urged the top court to issue appropriate directions to the Center and the States that such actions of bulldozing properties cannot be taken against any accused in any criminal proceedings. Wherein, the apex court had ordered status quo on the demolition drive against the encroachment at Jahangirpuri in Delhi.

Case Title: Jamiat Ulama I Hind and Anr. Vs. Union of India and Ors.