'Withdraw or we will quash it': SC to UP govt on recovery notices against anti-CAA protestors
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant gave last opportunity to UP govt to withdraw the proceedings, and added that, if not done then they will be quashed for being in violation of law
The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up Uttar Pradesh for taking action on the recovery notices issued to the alleged anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protestors in December 2019.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant gave last opportunity to the state government to withdraw the proceedings, and added that, if not done then those proceedings will be quashed for being in violation of the law.
"Withdraw the proceedings or we will quash it for being in violation of the law laid down by this court."
The bench told counsel representing the state government that it acted like a "complainant, adjudicator, and prosecutor" while attaching the properties of the accused. It pointed out that proceedings initiated in December 2019 were contrary to the law laid down by the apex court and they were not sustainable.
Additional Advocate General Garima Prashad, representing the UP government, said over 100 FIRs were registered against more than 800 rioters and 274 recovery notices were issued against them. She submitted that recovery orders were passed in 236 while 38 cases were closed. Citing the new law notified in 2020, Prashad contended that claim tribunals were set up, headed by retired district judges, and earlier. these were headed by Additional District Magistrates (ADMs).
Citing the top court's verdicts in 2009 and 2018, the bench said judicial officers should have been appointed in claim tribunals, but the state government appointed ADMs.
The UP government counsel submitted that 451 policemen were injured during the protest and parallel criminal proceedings and recovery proceedings were conducted.
The bench emphasised that the state government should follow the due process under the law. "Please examine this, we are giving one opportunity till February 18," it added.
Justice Surya Kant told Prashad: "This plea concerns only a set of notices sent in December 2019... You can withdraw them with a stroke of a pen. 236 notices in a big state like UP is not a big thing."
The top court reiterated that it will quash the proceedings conducted prior to the legislation with liberty to take the recourse under the new law. It clarified that proceedings which are pending will be under the new law. "You tell us next Friday what you want to do and we will close this matter for orders," the bench told Prashad.
The apex court made these observations during the hearing of a plea by Parwaiz Arif Titu, who sought quashing of notices sent to alleged protestors and claimed such notices have been sent in an arbitrary manner. The district administration had sent these notices to recover losses caused by damage to public properties during the anti-CAA agitations in Uttar Pradesh. The plea cited that a notice was sent to a person, who died six years ago at the age of 94.