Supreme Court asks UP govt to refund crores recovered from anti-CAA protestors

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that the money recovered from those accused of destroying public properties during the anti-CAA protests in Uttar Pradesh should be refunded.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said that the Uttar Pradesh government should refund the entire amount worth crores of rupees recovered from the protestors.

The court has been hearing a plea filed by Parwaiz Arif Titu, a resident in UP, seeking to quash notices given to alleged protestors by the district administration to recover losses caused by damage to public properties. According to the plea, the notices were sent to a person who had died six years ago at the age of 94 and also to two people who are aged above 90.

“Since the orders in pursuance of the show cause notices have been withdrawn in pursuance of the GOs, there shall be refund of any recovery made in the meantime. This will however be without prejudice to such action as may be warranted in terms of the proceedings before and the decision of the claims Tribunal at a subsequent stage,” the top court said.

This comes at a time UP government informed the Supreme Court that it has withdrawn the 274 notices issued against anti-CAA protesters for recovery of alleged damages prior to the enactment of the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages To Public and Private Property Act 2020. The notices were issued to the alleged protestors before the enactment of the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2021, Live Law reported. The law states that protesters found guilty by claims tribunals of damaging government or private properties will face imprisonment of one year or a fine ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1 lakh.

However, the court granted the state government to proceed against the alleged protestors under the new law.

According to a new report by Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), over 500 recovery notices have been arbitrarily issued, without due legal process, across ten districts for damages worth an estimate of Rs.3.55 crores during the protests against CAA and NRC.

“This has caused protracted harassment and trauma to those who have been targeted,” it said.