Prayagraj: Taking strong exception to the role of Lucknow district administration, which had put up hoardings with names and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters, the Allahabad High Court on Monday directed them to remove the same by March 16.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha, said, "We have examined the action of the state under consideration in the instant matter by the touch stones aforesaid.
''So far as legality part is concerned, suffice to the state that no law is in existence, permitting the state to place the banners with personal data of the accused, from whom the compensation is to be charged.
''The legitimate goal, as held by the Supreme Court in the case of KS Puttaswamy (supra), the proposed action must be necessary for a democratic society for a legitimate aim.
''On scaling, the act of the state in the instant matter, we do not find any necessity for a democratic society for a legitimate aim, to have publication of personal data and identity. The accused, from whom some compensation is to be recovered, in no manner are they fugitive. The learned Advocate General also failed to satisfy us as to why placement of the banners is necessary for a democratic society for a legitimate aim".
The court also maintained that the third test is that there should be rational nexus between the object and means adopted to achieve them and further that how the extent of interference is proportionate to it's need.
"The object, as disclosed to us, is only to deter the people from participating in illegal activities. On asking, the learned Advocate General failed to satisfy us as to why the personal data of few persons have been placed on banners, though in the state of Uttar Pradesh, there are lakhs of accused persons, who are facing serious allegations pertaining to commission of crimes, whose personal details have not been subjected to publicity.
''As a matter of fact, the placement of personal data of selected persons reflects colourable exercise of powers by the Executive," it said in a written judgement.
The bench said," In entirety, we are having no doubt that the action of the state, which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing, but an unwarranted interference in the privacy of people. The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
The bench, in its directive said accordingly, the District Magistrate, Lucknow and the Commissioner of Police, Lucknow Commissionerate, Lucknow are directed to remove the banners from the road side forthwith.''The state is directed not to place such banners on road side containing personal data of individuals, without having authority of law,'' it added.
The judges said a report of satisfactory compliance is required to be submitted by the District Magistrate, Lucknow to the Registrar General of this Court, on or before March 16, 2020.
"On receiving such compliance report, the proceedings of this petition shall stand closed," the court said.
Earlier on Sunday morning, the court had observed that the decision of the Lucknow district administration to put up hoardings with names, photos and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters was an ''absolute encroachment on personal liberty'' and asked the government for corrective measures.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha had taken suo motu cognisance of the hoardings on Saturday and asked Lucknow Commissioner of Police Sujit Pandey and District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash to explain the law, under which the hoardings were put up.
The court maintained that the posters were put on, without mentioning the relevant law, under which it was done. The judges also said that the hoarding is also a violation to the right to privacy of the citizens of the country.
On Thursday night, the district administration had put up hoardings with photos and addresses of 53 anti-CAA protesters at prominent crossings across the city. The hoardings included pictures of Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas, Darapuri and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, all of whom were named as accused in the violence that swept the state capital on December 19, last year.
Addressing the media, the Lucknow DM had said, ''The hoardings of people, who have been identified by the district administration for indulging in violent activities during the protest, have been put up across the city.
''Around 100 such hoardings had been put up at several places and these feature the pictures, names and addresses of people. Also, people indulging in violence have been served recovery notices and if they don't pay for the damages, then their properties will be confiscated,'' he added.
Retired IPS officer SR Darapuri, whose picture was among those of the protesters, termed the exercise undemocratic and said he would file a defamation case.''I have not received any kind of notice yet and I am going to file a defamation case in this regard. We are going to challenge the entire matter in the High Court and will also file a writ petition. Whatever is being done, is undemocratic.
''Our crime is not yet proven in the court and not even the charge sheet has been filed in this case. We will appeal against this diktat and fight till the end,asserted Mr Darapuri.Another person whose picture was on the hoardings, Robin Verma, said ''Our personal details like address are given on the hoarding and if any untoward incident happens or any anti-social element attacks our house, then Lucknow District Administration will be completely responsible for it.''