There is no law to back you, says Supreme Court as Uttar Pradesh defends ‘name and shame’ posters

New Delhi: There is no law to back the Uttar Pradesh government’s action of putting up hoardings naming those accused of violence during protests against the citizenship law, the Supreme Court told the state government on Thursday.
A vacation bench of the top court was hearing a petition by the Yogi Adityanath government, challenging an order earlier this week by the Allahabad High Court asking the government for the immediate removal of the ‘name and shame’ posters and hoardings put up across Lucknow. The case has been referred to a three-judge bench, with the Supreme Court not putting a stay on the high court’s order.
Defending its action, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Uttar Pradesh, argued that the hoardings were put up after following process of law, and that it was put up as a deterrent. It directed the top court registry to put up the case file before Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde so that a “bench of sufficient strength can be constituted at the earliest to hear and consider” the case next week.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s lawyers said the hoardings won’t be removed for now as the case has been referred to a larger bench.
Sources said the hoardings – in which the persons named were asked to pay for damage to public property and warned that their property would be attached otherwise – were put up on instructions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
“The wrong-doer must be brought to book. But can the state go beyond that?” Justice UU Lalit observed, asking if the state government has the power to put up such hoardings.
On Monday, the Allahabad High Court cited the Right to Privacy as a fundamental human right recognised by the United Nations as well as the Supreme Court, and said the government’s move to display photographs and personal details of the accused on roadside hoardings was “an unwarranted interference in privacy”.
The court had also asked the Lucknow administration to give a compliance report on the removal of the hoardings to the registrar general by March 16.
“In the present case, the cause is not about personal injury caused to the persons whose personal details are given in the banner but the injury caused to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration. The cause as such is undemocratic functioning of government agencies which are supposed to treat all members of public with respect and courtesy and at all time should behave in manner that upholds constitutional and democratic values,” the high court judgment read.