Millennium Post

Unlawful act

Unlawful act

Not surprisingly, the UP administration desisted from Allahabad High Court's order directing the state to bring down the name and shame hoardings put up across Lucknow to identify people accused of vandalism during the anti-citizenship law protests. The matter reached the Supreme Court on Thursday where a vacation bench opined how there was no law defending the state administration's step to put up hoardings. Naturally, what law provides for a state to execute unwarranted interference in someone's privacy, let alone 57 of them. The issue was significantly clear back in the Allahabad High Court only where the state administration was clearly directed to bring down the hoardings displaying names, pictures and addresses of those accused of vandalism in anti-CAA protests. The Allahabad High Court acted suo motu in public interest anticipating violence that may be perpetuated as the result of actions of the state in publicly shaming the accused persons. How can the state not take note of that? UP advocate general had argued that these hoardings were to act as a deterrent but has the state lost all sense of morality when deciding upon deterrents? Not even offenders of serious crime are subject to such treatment as has been meted out against these people accused of vandalism. The motive strikingly appears to be that along the lines of vengeance. No state administration should pursue immoral steps — public name and shame of offenders — to achieve moral ends — effective deterrence. While the SC found no law supporting the UP administration's step, the Solicitor General, appearing for UP government, invoked the matter of privacy. He argued that citizens waive their right to privacy by committing an act in public. The question of privacy is what directed the vacation bench to post the matter for a larger bench led by the Chief Justice of India. But SC rightly branded the case as of immense importance and thus suggested an expedited hearing which can be done as early as March 16 when the Supreme Court resumes after Holi break. But even so, the Supreme Court did not stay the High Court's order. Yet, the UP administration has not taken down the hoardings, outrightly denying Allahabad High Court's directive.

While what UP government is doing does not make sense in a morally-right society, the fact that it is not even paying heed to Allahabad High Court's order is utterly deplorable. In its pursuit of flashing a stern deterrence, the state is implicitly allowing for more violence to facilitate, but of course on its own. Uttar Pradesh government wants people to know the accused people so that the general crowd, in its own capacity, can socially outcast them and even attack them. Given the social unrest that Delhi recently experienced, UP government's act and its failure to comply with the High Court order makes for a disastrous recipe. Unless the Supreme Court comes down heavily on the UP administration for its moral crime, the trend might set a dangerous precedent for unimaginable measures that the state may thereafter pursue, which might be to achieve lawful ends but through unlawful means.

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