Days after Supreme Court observed that the UP government had no authority in law to put up posters of people it had accused of causing damage to public property during anti-CAA protests, the Yogi Adityanath-led administration has sought to legitimise its actions – and the entire process of demanding compensation from such persons – through a new ordinance.
The Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Ordinance 2020 was promulgated on 15 March by the Governor of UP Anandiben Patel.
The main purpose of the ordinance is stated to be the establishment of a claims tribunal to investigate the damages caused to public and private property during protests, riots, etc, and award compensation to the owners of the property. The ordinance allows this to be done ex parte, ie, without hearing the person accused of causing the damage, in certain circumstances.
The ordinance has been promulgated one day before the UP administration was supposed to file a report in the Allahabad High Court setting out whether it had complied with the high court’s order on 9 March to take down the ‘name and shame’ banners it had put up in Lucknow, as these violated the Right to Privacy and had no basis in law.
There appear to be several grounds on which to challenge the ordinance in the high court or Supreme Court, including ambiguity in definitions, the inclusion of ‘name and shame’ provisions that violate the Right to Privacy, and unconstitutional restrictions on appeals.