Prophet Row: Ex-Bureaucrats Seek SC's Intervention To Check 'Bulldozing' in UP
A sense of impunity and arrogance of majoritarian power seems to be driving the 'bulldozing', the group said.
A group of retired civil servants on Tuesday, 21 June, wrote an open letter to Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana, seeking intervention by the Supreme Court in alleged illegal detention, bulldozing of residences and police violence in Uttar Pradesh following protests against certain objectionable remarks made by two now-removed BJP functionaries.
"What is even more alarming is that the idea of 'bulldozer justice', of inflicting brutal punishment on citizens who dare to protest lawfully or criticise the government or express dissent by using ostensibly legal instruments, is now becoming the norm rather than the exception across many Indian states,” they said in the letter.
There is a sense of impunity and the arrogance of majoritarian power which seems to be driving this disregard for constitutional values and principles, it said.
The signatories include former Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, former Indian Police Service (IPS) officers Julio Ribeiro, Avinash Mohananey, Maxwell Pereira and A K Samanta, and former Social Justice Secretary Anita Agnihotri.
The former bureaucrats said they “fully support” a plea sent to the CJI on 14 June, 2022 by a select group of former judges of the apex court, high courts and leading advocates, requesting him to take suo motu cognizance of the recent acts in Uttar Pradesh of alleged illegal detention, bulldozing of residences and police violence on protesters and those in police custody following protests against certain objectionable remarks made by two former BJP spokespersons.
They sought his “immediate intervention” in the matter.
The letter said a writ petition against the demolition of allegedly unauthorized constructions has been filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind before the bench of Justices Bopanna and Vikram Nath and that after the preliminary hearing, the response of the state government has been sought and a hearing will take place next week.
'Entire Edifice of Constitutional Governance Likely to Collapse if SC Doesn't Intervene'
The apex court, while hearing the plea last week, had said that "everything should be fair" and authorities should strictly follow the due procedure under the law. The BJP on 5 June suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after their controversial remarks against the Prophet.
“We believe that unless the judiciary at the highest level steps in to intervene, swiftly, firmly and decisively, the entire edifice of constitutional governance that has been so carefully and meticulously constructed over the last seventy two years, is likely to collapse,” said the letter signed by 90 former civil servants.
The demolition drive and the abuse of municipal and civic laws for political ends is just one element of a larger policy for converting the administrative and police apparatus into an instrument of brutal majoritarian repression, the former bureaucrats claimed in the letter written by them under the aegis of Constitutional Conduct Group.
'Real Culpability Lies at the Highest Levels of the Political Executive'
There are explicit directions to invoke the National Security Act, 1980 and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 to brutally quell any protest, they said. The policy has the sanction of the highest levels of the government and while local level officials and police personnel are certainly answerable for arbitrary use of power, the real culpability lies at the highest levels of the political executive, the letter said. It is this corruption of the edifice of constitutional governance which requires the Supreme Court to step in and stem the rot, it said."
It is no longer just a case of ‘excesses' of the police and the administration at the local level which can be brought under check by higher levels of administration and political authority, it is the fact that the very idea of the rule of law, of ‘due process', of being treated as ‘innocent until proven guilty' is being turned upside down,” the letter said.
What we have seen in Prayagraj, in Kanpur, in Saharanpur and many other towns which have a sizeable Muslim population, follows a pattern and is politically directed," it claimed. There is a sense of impunity and the arrogance of majoritarian power which seems to be driving this disregard for constitutional values and principles, the letter said."
We believe that the immediacy of the threat is critical and we join hands with the former judges and the advocates who have petitioned you, in urging you to take cognisance of the situation and intervene appropriately,” it said.
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