Allahabad HC issues notice in plea challenging Uttar Pradesh Ordinance on compensation for property damage during riots

Allahabad HC issues notice in plea challenging Uttar Pradesh Ordinance on compensation for property damage during riots

Aditya AK

In a significant development in the name and shame controversy, the Allahabad High Court has issued notice in a challenge to the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Private and Public Property Ordinance, 2020 (Shashank Shri Tripathi v. State of Uttar Pradesh).

Notice was issued to the Uttar Pradesh government by a Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Samit Gopal in the petition filed by Advocate Shashank Shri Tripathi.

The Uttar Pradesh government moved to pass the Ordinance just a week after the Allahabad High Court had pulled up the authorities for displaying banners bearing the names and photographs of persons alleged to have caused damage to property during anti-CAA protests in Lucknow.

Aggrieved by the High Court order, the government moved the Supreme Court shortly thereafter. While the Apex Court referred issues related to the matter to a larger bench, it did not stay the Allahabad High Court’s order.

In view of the fact that the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, the High Court pushed the date for complying with its earlier directive to remove banners to April 10.

Today, Tripathi argued before the Bench that the Ordinance deserves to be declared struck down as being inconsistent with fundamental right under Part-III of the Constitution of India.

It was also argued that a person's right to privacy would be severely affected by the Ordinance. This, in light of the fact that the Ordinance provides that once a Claims Tribunal passes an order for recovery of damages, the name, address and photograph of the person found responsible shall be published.

It was further submitted that the field in which the Ordinance will operate is already occupied by Central enactments including the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.

Another contention was that the Ordinance is in contravention of the Supreme Court's judgment in Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Limited, wherein the scope of the powers of tribunals was elaborated.

It was further argued that the intention of the Ordinance is only to frustrate and overrule the law laid down by the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court, which had termed the state's move to put up the name and shame banners as a "colourable exercise of power".

After hearing the arguments, the Court decided to issue notice to the state government. It held,

"Having considered the arguments advanced and also of the facts and grounds referred in the petition for writ, we consider it appropriate to have a counter affidavit to have adequate response by the State of Uttar Pradesh. The State of Uttar Pradesh thus is directed to file a counter to the petition on or before 25th March, 2020."

Allahabad High Court

The matter has been listed for March 27.

[Read the order]

Shashank Shri Tripathi v. State of Uttar Pradesh.pdf
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