The Uttar Pradesh Government will have to take down the ‘name and shame’ hoardings put up by the Uttar Pradesh government containing details of alleged anti-CAA protestors as the Supreme Court on Thursday declined to interfere with an Allahabad High Court order ordering their removal, said Sadaf Jafar, a political activist whose name, along with 57 others, also figured on the hoardings.
The Allahabad High Court had directed DM and commissioner of Lucknow to ensure removal of the hoardings and file a compliance report by March 16, 2020. It was to stay this order that the UP government, led by CM Yogi Adityanath, approached the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court vacation bench, comprising Justices UU Lalit and Aniruddha Bose, began hearing the UP government’s appeal on Thursday. The bench also directed the registry to put up the case before Chief Justice of India SA Bobde so that a "bench of sufficient strength can be constituted to hear and consider" the case next week.
Even as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said in court that the hoardings were put up after the authorities found these 57 people guilty of rioting, the bench stated that there was no law to defend the hoardings.
“The Solicitor General Mehta was adamant to make a case out of it and that is why it has been referred to a larger bench. These people are simply buying time to keep the hoardings for as long as possible. The UP government has no grounds to take it to the Supreme Court. Even in the Supreme Court they will not be able to sustain as there is no law which states that the private information of the accused can be put out there publicly,” asserted Jafar.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for retired IPS officer SR Darapuri whose details also figured on the hoardings, said it was like an “appeal for lynching”. Darapuri said the Supreme Court had upheld the HC order because there exists ‘a threat to our privacy’.
“We welcome the order. Since the matter is a threat to our fundamental rights, it has been referred to a larger bench. The bench has given us a chance to plead before it. I feel good sense will prevail on the UP government. They have not started to take it down yet, but they should do so immediately,” underscored Darapuri.
“Ever since these hoardings have come up in Lucknow, we know that there is no lawful or ethical ground to have put them up in the first place. The High Court took cognisance of the matter and held a hearing on a holiday. It indicates clearly how serious the issue was as our right to privacy and right to life was at stake. Our lives have been put at stake,” points out Jafar, who is also a teacher.
She said that the fight is not about those 58 people whose personal details have featured on the hoarding. She argues that the question now is about the Constitution and rule of law versus the state of Uttar Pradesh. “What has happened to us is irreparable. Even if the hoarding goes down, the threat to our lives will continue. This is a fight for the future so that no one else’s life is at stake. It is important to uphold the Constitution, and this can be done only by the Supreme Court,” Jafar said.