Refund of the fines collected by the UP Govt against the Anti-CAA Protestors.
Uttar Pradesh government informed the Supreme Court on Friday that they have withdrawn the recovery notice issued against the anti CAA protesters. The Supreme court appreciated the gesture of the state government and ordered UP Government to refund the fines collected from the protestors in lieu of damaging Public Property during the Anti CAA protest.
Facts and background of the case:
- In December 2019, the State government of UP sent recovery notices to the anti CAA protestors who were accused of damaging the Public Property
- The state government arbitrarily sent recovery notices to anti CAA Protestors and collected the fines from the protestors and also attached their property for recovery of fine
- Aggrieved by this arbitrary act of the state government Parwaiz Arif Titu filed a writ petition against the state of Uttar Pradesh in 2020
- above petition was filed by the petitioner Parwaiz Arif Titu claiming that the actions taken by the state government are against the guidelines given by the Apex court
- In Re: Destruction of Public and Private Properties v. Govt of A.P. and Kodungallur Film Society v. Union of India apex court has given guidelines to be followed by the state government while taking actions against the damages caused by protestors to public property
- In the above cases, the court provided that whenever there is no legislation regarding the collection of fine or recovery of fine in connection to the damages occurred to public property
- The state government must constitute a committee
- The committee should consist of retired Judges as a claim commissioner
- The sitting or retired high court judge i.e., the claim commissioner should assess damages in public property and fix the liability
- The petitioner filed the above writ petition claiming that the UP government did not follow the above guidelines issued by the Apex court because the recovery notices and the liability of damages were fixed by the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) who has no authority to do the same as the retired judge must act as claim commissioner and fix the damages
- When the court questioned the UP government regarding the same Garima Prasad advocate general appearing for the UP government submitted that 106 FIRs was registered against 833 protestors who participated in the anti CAA protest and issued 247 recovery notice to those who were part of the mob in accordance with the order passed by the ADM.
- After the dues submissions made by the advocate general the court asked the state government that “you have become complainant, you have become witness, you have become a prosecutor and then you attach properties of people. Is it permissible under any law?”
- On 15 February Court ordered the UP government to “withdraw the recovery notices or we will quash it for being in violation of the law laid down by this court”
- On 19th February the advocate general appeared on behalf of the UP government and informed that the 247 recovery notices are withdrawn then the court-ordered UP state to refund the fine collected by the UP government from the alleged protestors.
- Garima prasad argued before the court that the public will get a wrong message if the fine collected against the damages caused to public property is Refunded instead, she asked the court to issue status quo because, according to the new bill i.e., Uttar Pradesh Recovery of damages to public and private property Bill the tribunals are set up to decide the matter hence until tribunal access and fix damages the court may issue status quo instead of refunding the fine.
- The court was not impressed by these arguments and ordered the government to refund the fine as the recovery notices are issued against the due process of law. Recovery notices were issued to people who were dead 6 years back and to people of 90 years of age and fines are collected by very poor people like vegetable vendors hence the court asked up government to refund the same as it is against the due process of law.
- The court has given the liberty to UP State Government to issue fresh recovery notices in accordance with the new Act i.e., Uttar Pradesh Recovery of damages to public and private property Bill and to follow due process of law while issuing recovery notices and claiming damages.