Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Shortly after the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that it has withdrawn all recovery notices issued to alleged anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters after a rebuke from the apex court, it initiated fresh proceedings against some of the alleged accused.

This time, many of the accused have received noticed to appear before the Claims Tribunal, Indian Express has reported. Prem Kala Singh, president of the Claims Tribunal, Lucknow zone, has asked the alleged accused to depose before the tribunal as to why charges should not be initiated against them.

This action comes in spite of the Supreme Court refusing the government’s request to take the Claims Tribunal route.

In early February, hearing a plea filed by one Parwaiz Arif Titu seeking quashing of notices sent to alleged protesters by the district administration for recovering losses caused by damage to public properties during the 2019 anti-CAA protests, a bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant told the Uttar Pradesh government, “Withdraw the proceedings or we will quash it for being in violation of the law laid down by this court.”

The court also asked the government to return the money of citizens – worth crores who had already paid for the alleged damages.

In late December, 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government announced its decision to ask alleged vandals, even before their guilt has been proven, to pay damages or face the seizure of their properties. Notices were promptly issued to over 130 people accused of rioting, to pay up around Rs 50 lakh in damages. Members of the legal fraternity questioned the legality of such a move, as The Wire had reported then.

The Adityanath government eventually issued 274 notices, out of which recovery orders were passed in 236 while 38 cases were closed.

The plea in the apex court had argued that the notices were arbitrary and were even sent in the name of a person who passed away six years ago, and to people aged above 90 years.

Days after the Supreme Court verdict, the Uttar Pradesh government told the bench that it has withdrawn all 274 recovery notices and proceedings initiated against anti-CAA protestors for damages caused to public and private properties.

The bench, significantly, refused to accept the submission of Additional Advocate General Garima Prashad that the protestors and the state government be allowed to move the claim tribunal instead of directing refunds.

Indian Express has reported that all 21 people in Kanpur and two from Lucknow who had got the earlier notice have been issued the Claims Tribunal notice now.

The 21 people from Kanpur are mostly daily wage workers, and have all paid Rs 13,476 each to the district administration, their lawyer said. This amount has not been refunded to them yet.

In March, 2021, the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Bill, 2021, was passed. Under it protesters found guilty of damaging government or private properties face imprisonment of one year or a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

This article first appeared on thewire.in