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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Supreme Court to hear in September pleas against demolition of properties of accused in criminal cases

Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, CPM leader Brinda Karat and others have moved public interest pleas challenging increasing trend of authorities wielding bulldozer on homes of people accused of crime

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 11.07.23, 05:23 AM
Brinda Karat.

Brinda Karat. File photo

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear in September a plea to lay down the law on whether authorities can unilaterally demolish the homes of people accused in criminal cases, as they have been accused of doing particularly against Muslims.

The Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, CPM leader Brinda Karat and others have moved public interest pleas challenging the increasing trend of authorities wielding the bulldozer on the homes of people accused of crime, especially Muslims charged with rioting in BJP-administered areas.

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The petitions were filed early this year in the context of Delhi civic authorities demolishing the homes of certain accused in the Jahangirpuri area following communal riots during the Hanuman Jayanti celebrations last year.

During Monday’s arguments, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Jamiat, requested the bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and J.B. Pardiwala to lay down the law on the matter.

He referred to the recent instance of the Madhya Pradesh government demolishing a part of the home of an accused who had urinated on a tribal man in public.

“(The) law has to be settled. Now it has become a fashion to demolish the house of a person accused of crime. He must be taken to task, but what about his family?” Dave said.

Justice Pardiwala said there had to be a hearing on whether or not a structure was illegal before it could be demolished.

Dave said the Delhi civic authorities had demolished homes belonging to Muslims in Jahangirpuri on the basis of a letter from the BJP mayor.

“The only people targeted in Jahangirpuri were Muslims even though the area has both Hindus and Muslims,” Dave said.

“My humble submission is, the Lordships will have to settle if powers can be used like this… at the instance of the BJP to target (the) minority.”

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta objected, saying: “Incorrect. Majority community members were also found encroaching and (their houses) were demolished (too).”

At one point, Mehta asked Dave not to raise his voice in court, leading to an exchange.

“Learn manners. Why do you want to show that you are not the man deserving to be in this office (as solicitor-general)?” Dave said.

Justice Gavai disapproved of Dave’s remarks. “It is not for you to decide…. You cannot shout like this in front of us,” he said.

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