Prophet Row: Ex-SC Judges Write Letter To CJI Over Police Brutality In UP

Prophet Row: Ex-SC Judges Write Letter To CJI Over Police Brutality In UP
Representational image sources: The Free Press Journal/Legal Bites

Three former judges of the Supreme Court, and more than half a dozen top lawyers of the country have slammed the Yogi Adityanath government’s “bulldozer policy” and the alleged police brutality by Uttar Pradesh forces, against Muslim citizens protesting over the Prophet row. Urging Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana to take suo motu cognisance against “illegal” police action in Uttar Pradesh, the judges and lawyers have said that people of the agitated Muslim community are being targeted illegally.

Terming the BJP-led UP government sanctioned bulldozing of protesters’ houses an “unacceptable subversion of the rule”, the letter urged the top court to take immediate action. 

The signatories of the letter include three former Supreme Court judges namely Justice B Sudarshan Reddy, Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice AK Ganguly, along with senior lawyers like Shanti Bhushan, Indira Jaisingh, Prashant Bhushan and Anand Grover.

The Uttar Pradesh government has arrested more than 300 people so far across the state, following the June 10 violence over suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s controversial statement about Prophet Muhammad during a TV news debate. BJP’s Naveen Kumar Jindal, the expelled BJP Delhi media chief, added fuel to the fire by making insulting remarks against Islam in his tweets. Labelling its party representatives as “fringe elements”, the BJP suspended its leaders soon after Arab countries summoned the respective Indian envoys and expressed extreme indignation over the remarks on Prophet Muhammad.

“Mockery Of The Constitution”

The letter sent to the apex court alleged that the brutal clampdown and demolition of houses of protesters by the UP administration against agitators is a “mockery of the constitution”, and a clear violation of the rights of citizens. “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,” it stated.

The Prayagraj authorities, on Sunday, had demolished Javed Mohammad’s 20-year-old house. He is believed to be the main accused in connection with the recent violence in the city,  according to the local police. Reportedly, Javed, who is an activist with the Welfare Party Of India, and his daughter Afreen Fateema who is currently at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), have been  on the government’s radar for protesting against the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The top judges and lawyers have also expressed hope that the Supreme Court will take matters in its own hands, like the way it did in the case of migrant workers and the Pegasus matter. “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,” said the letter. The letter also hit out at UP CM Yogi Adityanath for encouraging his police force to torture the protesters. 

Totally Illegal: Ex-CJ Mathur

Meanwhile, Justice Govind Mathur, former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, has strongly objected to the UP government’s action against protesters, saying that demolishing the houses in the name of encroachment is “totally illegal”.

Speaking with the Indian Express, Justice Mathur said that it is impermissible that you demolish a house when the residents are in custody, even if you assume for a moment that the construction was illegal. “It is not a technical issue but a question of rule of law,” he noted.

FIR  Against Times Now’s Navika Kumar

Meanwhile, a police complaint has been filed against Times Now’s prime-time anchor Navika Kumar at the Nanalpeth police station in Maharashtra, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. It came almost three weeks after cases started registering against Nupur Sharma, who was one of the panelists on Kumar’s show. Sharma made comments against the Islamic prophet on the Times Now TV debate, following which she was suspended from the BJP.

The channel has tried to distance itself from the controversy and urged its panelists to refrain from using “unparliamentary language” against fellow guests during the TV debates.

 

Read more: Why Is The Representation Of Muslims In Indian Politics Dwindling?

 

BJP’s Fresh Guideline For Spokespersons

The ruling BJP government has set a new guideline for its leaders and spokespersons joining TV debates and holding public rallies. The party has strictly forbid its leaders from criticising any religious figures or symbols during, urging them to mind their language at all times and not to indulge in heated TV debates. 

According to NDTV reports, the BJP has asked its leaders to first check the topic of the TV debate and prepare for it before speaking on the party’s behalf.

Boycott TV Debates

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has urged Muslim scholars and religious leaders to avoid participating in TV news debates in the backdrop of widespread anger among the Muslim community, over the remarks made on Prophet Muhammad. The board said that the move will help in curbing the atmosphere of hatred in the country.

Urging people to boycott news channels, the top Muslim body said that radical TV news debates are designed to spread hatred among people in the country. According to the board, most news debates are not based on facts and knowledge, and are aimed at defaming Islam for the sake of TRPs.

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