Supreme court
Supreme Court

In a massive setback to the Yogi Adityanath government, the Supreme Court has ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to refund damages recovered from the persons accused of “destroying public property” during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The assets recovered by the State, according to the government’s own oral assertion in court, are worth “some crores”.

The top court order came after the UP govt being accused by the apex court of being the “complainant, adjudicator and prosecutor”, informed a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant that it had withdrawn show-cause notices issued by Additional District Magistrates since December 2019 in 274 cases of “alleged destruction of public properties” and subsequent proceedings, The Hindu reported.

The UP govt repeatedly urged the court to direct the status quo, saying that a refund would send a wrong message on deterrence, but the bench said that when a proceeding itself is withdrawn, all actions consequent to it will have to go.

Some of these people were well over 90 years of age and included women, students and activists. They were accused of vandalizing public property while participating in protests held nationwide against the CAA.

The Uttar Pradesh Additional Advocate General, senior advocate Garima Prashad, said the cases would now be referred to a claims tribunal set up under the newly enacted Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act of 2020 for fresh adjudication.

UP govt argued that the election  Model Code of Conduct was in place in the state and there would be “difficulties” to implement the refund.

“What difficulties? The Model Code of Conduct does not prevent you from enforcing the law. The Model Code of Conduct does not prevent you from implementing a judgment of the Supreme Court,” Justice Chandrachud replied.

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