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'Don't demolish houses of accused as punitive measure'

New Delhi: Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre and some states, including Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, that "precipitative actions" like razing buildings in criminal proceedings be not taken.

The plea assumes significance because of recent actions taken by authorities in Madhya Pradesh to use bulldozers to raze properties of those accused of rioting during the Ram Navami celebrations. Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, in its petition, said the action like razing the house in a criminal proceeding as a punishment is unknown to criminal law. Petitioners also seek a declaration that residential accommodations or any commercial property cannot be demolished as a punitive measure... also pray that police personnel to be provided specialised training in handling communal riots and situations where populations become restive, it said.

"It is further prayed that directions be issued for Ministers, Legislators, and anybody unconnected with the criminal investigation to be restrained from apportioning criminal responsibility regarding criminal action publicly or through any official communication until a determination by a criminal court," it said. The plea alleged that several ministers and legislators have made statements about the guilt of a certain section of society.

Referring to similar actions undertaken by states in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, it said these "undermine the criminal justice system of our country, including the important role of the courts".

"The legal process, including the pre-trial and trial stage, is hindered by these acts of the state, therefore, immediate action is needed to prevent such incidents from repeating. The states wherein such measures are being employed by the administrative authorities have been carrying them out with impunity as they are being supported by the top leadership in the said states. Hence, this Court must step in to stop the situation from escalating any further and also prevent such acts from being repeated in other states as well," the plea said.

Punitive actions at the outset as punishment are being inflicted without giving them an opportunity of hearing, it said.

The petition has been filed by Gulzar Ahmed Noor Mohammed Azmi, the secretary of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, said Fazlur Rahman Qasmi, the press secretary of the Muslim body.

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