In a recent development in the Gareeb Nawaz Masjid demolition case, a First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as “FIR”) had been filed against the Masjid Committee by the Uttar Pradesh police. A resident of the Barbanki district called Mohammad Naeem and the Secretary of the Gareeb Nawaz Committee called Mohammad Anees have filed a case before the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court against the Uttar Pradesh police and two of the journalists who have been associated with The Wire, a news portal that has published wrong reports tarnishing the image of the committee according to the petitioners.
The petition states that the two journalists had come and spoken with Mohammad Anees and Mohammad Naeem regarding the entire issue surrounding the demolition of the mosque. Thereafter the news portal had uploaded two videos on Twitter projecting that the demolition of the mosque was legal and the construction of the building was itself illegal in the first place. It has been alleged that The Wire has been deliberately trying to disrupt the communal harmony of the state and spread unnecessary hatred against a committee that is standing up for the rights of the minorities in the country.
It has been noted that in the entire FIR, the word “mosque” had not been used by the police. It has been referred to as illegal construction and the demolition has already been given a tag of legalization. There are framed sentences that had never been spoken by any member of the community, according to the petition. It has also been said that during the demolition, religious books and scriptures of a particular community had been thrown into the river by the police. Overall, the petition states that the entire FIR was vindictive and full of propaganda.
The plea submitted through Advocate Saud Rais takes the example of the famous case, Ramesh Thappar versus State of Madras in which it had been ruled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution is a fundamental right available to every citizen that includes the right to propagate ideas and information. By filing an FIR that had vindictive charges, the Uttar Pradesh police have assisted The Wire in trying to curb this basic right of the petitioners, pleads Rais.
The plea proceeds to note that the filing of the FIR had been a classic example of cruelty and totalitarianism by the state administration. It states that none of the offences under sections 153A,153,505(I)(b)120-B/34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 had been committed by any of the petitioners. The plea demands that the FIR be squashed with immediate effect and that no action be taken following the proceedings of the basis of that FIR.
The Hon’ble single judge bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari has observed that in an order given by the Hon’ble High Court on 22nd April 2021 on PIL no. 564, the proceedings of any order of eviction or demolition had to remain stalled till 31st May 2021 due to the spread of the pandemic. Therefore, the demolition conducted by the SHO and the Station House Officer of Ram Sanehi Ghat was a clear violation of directions 4 and 5 of the previous order. Charges of contempt have been pressed against them and they have been asked to show causes for their action by the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court. The Hon’ble court is expected to look into the matter in detail and give its final verdict in the upcoming hearings.