The Allahabad High Court on Sunday held a special sitting on the suo moto case with respect to the banners put up in several parts of Lucknow on Friday. The two jedge bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising of Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha held a two session hearing on Sunday, one from 10 AM and another from 3 PM, to hear Mr. Raghvendra Singh, Advocate General of Utter Pradesh.
The Allahabad High Court took suo moto action in the matter just three days after the unusual and unthinkable action of the Utter Pradesh administration of putting up banners including the Name of persons accused of violence during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests and shaming them. The Allahabad High Court took swift actions and within just three days of the incident swung to action in a case taken suo moto.
- Two hearing were held on Sunday, one from morning 10 AM and the other in the afternoon from 3 PM.
- The High Court directed the immediate removal of the banners of “naming and shaming” persons accused of violence during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests.
- The High Court also directed the District Magistrate and Police Commissioner to submit compliance report to the Registrar General of High Court by 16th of March.
The High Court’s Order
During the hearing, the primary objection that was raised by the Advocate General of Uttar Pradesh was that, the High Court cannot register a suo moto PIL into the matter. His argu,emt was that PIL was a remedy which was meant for the underprivileged, those who cannot access the Court on their own. The AG then went on to add that those whose names have been mentioned on the banners are capable enough to access the Court on their own if they feel aggrieved. Mr. Raghvendra Singh also cited the case of State of Uttaranchal v. Balwant Singh Chaufal and Others, 2010 (3) SCC 402 which lays down the guidelines for Courts to streamline PIL Jurisdiction.
Responding to the argument put forward by the AG, the High Court replied that the guidelines mentioned in the above case are in context of PIL by a party litigant, it have no application in matters arising out of suo moto action taken by Courts. The bench further added, “the Court duly applied its mind to ensure that the PIL is aimed at redressal of genuine public harm or public injury.”
The High Court further elaborated its stance by stating, “the judiciary usually takes action once a case is brought before it by a party and that is mostly in adverse litigation, but, where there is gross negligence on part of public authorities and government, where the law is disobeyed and the public is put to suffering and where the precious values of the Constitution are subjected to injuries, a Constitutional Court can very well take notice of that at its own.”
For justifying the suo moto action taken by the High Court, the Court elaborated its justification by stating, “In the case in hand, a valid apprehension of causing serious injury to the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India exists which demands adequate treatment by the Court at its own. The economic status of the persons directly affected in such matters is not material. The prime consideration before the Court is to prevent the assault on fundamental rights, especially the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As already stated, in the instant matter the act of the district and police administration of Lucknow is alleged to be in conflict with the right of life and liberty. Hence, the suo motu action by the Court is justified.”
Another objecting raised by the Advocate General was that since the cause of action arose in Lucknow the Allahabad High Court won’t have any jurisdiction over the matter. Rejecting this argument of the AG the High Court stated, “In the present case, the cause is not about personal injury caused to the persons whose personal details are given in the banner but the injury caused to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration. The cause as such is undemocratic functioning of government agencies which are supposed to treat all members of public with respect and courtesy and at all time should behave in manner that upholds constitutional and democratic values.”
In view of the above the Court found the action of the State to be “unwarranted interference in privacy” and also held that the said action had no legal basis and legitimacy. The High Court further directed the immediate removal of the banners “naming and shaming” persons accused of violence during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests. The Hugh Court further directed the District Magistrate and Police Commissioner to submit compliance report to the Registrar General of High Court by 16th of March.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. in-Re. Banner Placed on Road Side in the City of Lucknow v. State of Utter Pradesh, PIL No. 532 of 2020.