NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea of an alleged anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protester against the Allahabad High Court order asking him to deposit ten per cent of Rs 1,90,857 towards damages caused to the public and private properties in Mao district of Uttar Pradesh in 2019.
A bench of Justices LN Rao and BR Gavai issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and sought its response.
Senior advocate Collin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner Sarfraz, said that there is no CCTV footage of his involvement in the alleged violence incidents and he has not been named in any of the FIRs.
“The UP government is targeting the activists involved in anti-CAA protests and hence notice was issued to him for recovery of damages. On the day of the incident, a mob had allegedly caused damage to public and private properties in which the petitioner’s involvement is not established”, he said.
He said that the petitioner is a simple man from a weaver community who has helped many people during the nationwide lockdown with food and medical help.
The bench said that it is issuing notice on the plea which has challenged the Allahabad High Court order of May 10.
In his plea, Sarfraz said that a nationwide protest against the new Citizenship Amendment Act passed on December 11, 2019, granting citizenship to minorities excluding Muslims, facing persecution from neighbhouring countries, was launched on December 16, 2019.
He said that the peaceful protest was organised as a part of a national protest against the new law in Mau city in which nearly a thousand people participated.
“The petitioner was issued a notice by the Additional District Magistrate, Mau on February 4, 2020 stating that on December 16, 2019, an unlawful assembly caused damaged to property of Nagar Palika, police department and other public and private property”, the petition said adding that it was alleged that petitioner was prima facie responsible for the damages to the property.
The plea said that the petitioner in his reply to the notice contended that he has neither participated in any illegal assembly nor has he caused any damage to the public or private property or supported or encouraged any movement or procession.
“The petitioner has never participated in any procession or illegal assembly on the alleged date of occurrence for which the several FIRs have been lodged against the petitioner. Additionally, the CCTV camera that is installed in the police station Dakshin Tola, district Mau does not contain any footage of the petitioner at the time of the alleged offence,” it said.
The plea said that the Additional District Magistrate on February 22, passed an ex-parte order on the report of SHO, Dakshin Tola for the recovery of damages caused during the mob that broke out on December 16, 2019.
Sarfraz sought an ex-parte stay of the High Court order saying that the judge of the High Court without applying his mind and the changed circumstances imposed ten per cent of the estimated amount as damages without going to the merits of the case.