27 July 2023 11:59 AM GMT
The objection made by the State of Uttar Pradesh to the grant of bail to a person accused of bulldozing a house elicited a comment from the Supreme Court."So you agree that bulldozing houses is wrongful?", Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked UP Additional Advocate General (AAG) RK Raizada. The judge was probably alluding to reports of "bulldozer action" being taken by UP authorities to demolish...
The objection made by the State of Uttar Pradesh to the grant of bail to a person accused of bulldozing a house elicited a comment from the Supreme Court.
"So you agree that bulldozing houses is wrongful?", Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked UP Additional Advocate General (AAG) RK Raizada. The judge was probably alluding to reports of "bulldozer action" being taken by UP authorities to demolish the houses of accused persons.
The bench comprising Justices Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a petition challenging an order of the Allahabad High Court which set aside the bail granted to one Fasahat Ali Khan, who was accused of forcefully demolishing the house of one person in Rampur using bulldozer and looting Rs.20,000 from the house in 2016. The High Court had cited the pendency of other criminal cases against him as a ground to set aside the bail. The petitioner's lawyer argued before the Supreme Court that the cases against him were "politically motivated", filed during the elections.
"They are saying custodial interrogation is required but there has been no change in the circumstance. All FIRs are politically motivated, filed during the time of elections."
To this, UP AAG RK Raizada responded–
"Past FIRs and crimes committed by him had not been considered earlier so the High Court said they should be considered. He did not appear before the High Court. This man was with a police official. He was working under a political party. He bulldozed house of a person and looted 20,000 Rs from the house".
At this juncture, Justice SK Kaul asked the AAG :
"So you agree that bulldozing houses is wrongful? Then you will of course not follow the principle of bulldozing houses? Should we record your statement that you say that bulldozing houses is wrong? You just now argued that bulldozing houses is wrong."
The AAG laughed and said– "My plea is limited to this case. I will not exceed that."
Ultimately, the bench set aside the High Court order and restored the bail granted by the trial court. "The mere existence of cases during a particular period of time albeit large number but prior to the issue itself shall not be a ground for cancellation", observed the bench in the order.
Last year, several PILs were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the "bulldozer action" taken by the authorities in States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh to demolish the houses of persons accused in cases like riots. The petitioners contended that the authorities were resorting to extra-judicial and disproportionate actions to punish the accused, even before their guilt is established after a legal trial. The authorities maintained that they are taking action against unauthorized constructions.
Last year, the Supreme Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government not to carry out demolition activities except in accordance with the procedure established by law.
In response, the State of Uttar Pradesh submitted an affidavit that the demolitions carried out in Kanpur and Prayagraj were done by Local Development Authorities strictly in accordance with the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1973. The State had categorically denied that the demolitions were linked to riots and maintained that the process was initiated for violation of the building rules.