Camerapersons: Shivkumar Maurya and Ribhu Chatterjee
Video editor: Pawan Kumar
We break down each of those discrepancies for you.
Discrepancy #1: Read What the Law States
The demolition has been carried out by the Prayagraj Development Authority under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973.
But here’s what the law says.
Section 27 of the Act, on ‘Order of demolition of building’, states that the demolition can be carried out only 15 days after a copy of the order, with a brief statement of the reasons for the demolition, has been delivered to the owner of the property.
Fifteen days later.
Do you know how many days’ notice Javed Mohammad’s family says they received from the administration?
Half a day.
Javed’s daughter Sumaiyya Fatima says, “The first notice we got was the one pasted at our house after 10 pm on Saturday.”
That’s late night on 11 June. The house was demolished on 12 June.
And here’s another important point. The order by the Prayagraj Development Authority states that the show cause notice to Javed Mohammad was notified on 10 May 2022, but the law clearly states that a copy of the order of removal has to be delivered to the owner and the 15-day period has to begin after that.
Mohammad’s lawyer KK Rai has claimed that the Prayagraj administration has conveniently backdated the notice to say it was issued on 10 May 2022, and that they had never got any such notice.
Can the Prayagraj Development Authority provide any proof that the notice was actually delivered around 10 May 2022 and that the 15-day period was adhered to?
Discrepancy #2: Where’s the Opportunity To Show Cause?
The same law, the UP Urban Planning and Development Act, also states:
No such order shall be made unless the owner or the person concerned has been given a reasonable opportunity to show cause why the order should not be made.
Again, here’s what Sumaiyya Fatima, Javed’s daughter told The Quint, “We didn’t get any notice from any authority about our house until Saturday night. If our house was illegal all these years, why did we never hear of it then?”
So, the law states that the order for demolition shall not be made until the owner has been given “a reasonable opportunity” to explain themselves. So, the opportunity to show cause has to be given before the order is given. And then there has to be at least a 15-day period before the demolition can take place.
But the family states that the first they heard of the order was when it was pasted at their house on Saturday night.
Where did the opportunity for show cause go?
What’s more, Javed Mohammad was arrested by the UP Police on Saturday. His wife Parveen and daughter Sumaiya were detained by the police since Friday night as well, and the two were let go only on Sunday morning.
So, even after the order was placed, how much time did they really have to make their case before their house was demolished?
Any demolition that took place without a chance to show cause would be violative of the principles of natural justice as well - to punish someone without giving them a chance to explain themselves.
Discrepancy #3: Whose House Is Being Demolished?
The demolition order by the Prayagraj Development Authority is addressed to Javed Mohammad, son of Mohammad Azhar.
But here’s the thing. The family says that the owner of the house is Parveen Fatima, Javed Mohammad’s wife. And they say they have documents and receipts to prove the same.
For example, here’s a document of the municipal authority in Prayagraj that clearly shows that the house is registered under the name of Parveen Fatima, even as per municipal records.
So, why exactly did the Prayagraj Development Authority address the demolition order to Javed Mohammad?
And if they have erred in the order and official communication itself, then would that not make the demolition that was carried out unlawful and in contravention of regulations?
Sumaiyya Fatima told The Quint, “The house in my mother’s name, it was gifted to her by her ancestors. That doesn’t automatically make it my dad’s house. All the bills we have been paying have been in our mother’s name.”
Discrepancy #4: A Completely Unrelated Coincidence?
The demolition of the house took place one day after the UP Police claimed Javed Mohammed was a “mastermind” of the 10 June violence in Prayagraj.
The UP Police has officially stated that the demolition has nothing to do with the case against Javed in relation to the violence.
So, it’s a completely unconnected coincidence then?
Well, if only the exact same coincidence wouldn’t have happened in Khargone, Jahangirpuri, and elsewhere across UP on several occasions, then we wouldn’t be raising this question about the connection, would we?
Javed’s lawyer KK Rai has alleged that the notice initiating demolition proceedings was backdated to 10 May, and that the backdating was allegedly only done after the UP Police named Javed as a “mastermind” in the Prayagraj violence case.
These are the several unanswered questions that the UP administration needs to respond to.
The Quint has reached out to the Prayagraj Development Authority seeking a response on each of the discrepancies we’ve mentioned.
There has been no response from them so far.
On 12 June, a group of lawyers moved the Allahabad High Court alleging that the demolition was illegal and pleading the court look into the matter.
If the High Court does take up the plea, these questions will beg to be answered in the judiciary as well.