The Supreme Court of India today issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on the demolition of houses of those accused in recent violence in the state and said, "Everything should look fair...we expect the authorities to act only in accordance with law".
Ensure safety so that nothing untoward happens," said the top court while seeking a reply from the Yogi Adityanath government and civic bodies of Prayagraj and Kanpur on the demolitions of properties of those who have been accused of violence amid protests. Three days have been given to submit the response.
The court however did not put demolitions on hold, with the judges saying: "We can't stay demolitions. We can say go in accordance with law."
An organisation called the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had approached the Supreme Court, asking it to act against officials responsible for what they called the "illegal" demolition of houses, NDTV reported.
The petition also said the court should ask the UP government to ensure there were no other demolitions without due process of law being followed.
UP had recently demolished properties of those accused of participating in violent protests against the controversial comments on Prophet Muhammed by two BJP leaders. Houses torn down in Kanpur, Prayagraj and Saharanpur belonged to the violence accused.
The demolitions were "shocking and appalling", petitioners told the Supreme Court, alleging that notices were served after houses were razed.
"Adequate notices are must. What is being done is unconstitutional and shocking. It is being done by targeting a community," CU Singh, lawyer for the petitioners, said.
He said a notice of at least 15 to 40 days was a must before any demolition, per the laws of UP.
"The respondents (UP government) will get time for their objections. We should ensure their (affected parties) safety in the meantime. Let's be clear, they're also a part of society, ultimately, when someone has a grievance, they have a right to have it addressed," said Justice AS Bopanna.
The UP government asserted that it had followed the law.
"The due course of law is followed for demolitions. Media links the demolitions with political statements unnecessarily," said senior lawyer Harish Salve, arguing for the UP administration.
The petitioners expressed fear that more demolitions could be carried out over the weekend and requested the Supreme Court for interim protection. "Petitioners rely on Newspaper reports. We rely on official records," said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the UP government.