New Delhi, June 22 (KMS): A group of retired civil servants has asked the Chief Justice of India (CJI), N.V. Ramana, to intervene and put an end to bulldozing in Uttar Pradesh, saying it is now becoming the norm rather than the exception in many states across India.
Writing an open letter as part of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), 90 former civil servants said the Supreme court should take suo-motu cognizance of the “illegal detention, bulldozing of residences and police violence on protesters” in Uttar Pradesh following demonstrations against derogatory remarks made by BJP leaders on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“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 [in Uttar Pradesh,” they said in the letter.
The former civil servants maintained that 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.
“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. It is this corruption of the edifice of constitutional governance which requires the Supreme Court to step in and stem the rot,” the letter said.
“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,” it said. The problem is no longer just ‘excesses’ of the police and the administration at the local level but 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”, it added.
The former civil servants wrote, “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.”
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 CCG said.
“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 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 civil servants also supported a plea sent to the CJI on June 14, 2022 by some 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.
A writ petition against the demolition of allegedly unauthorised constructions has also been filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind before the bench of Justices Bopanna and Vikram Nath. After a preliminary hearing, the apex court said that “everything should be fair” and authorities should strictly follow the due procedure under the law.