An Open Letter to Chief Justice of India-Who Will Rein in the Executive if it seems to violate Supreme Court’s Judgement?

haldwani bulldozer 1


The Chief Justice of India

Sub : Haldwani Violence – Recovery Notices to Accused in Case of Violence in Haldwani Violative of SC’s Judgement


The issue of violence in Haldwani, Uttarakhand on 8 th February, when police had gone to demolish ‘an illegal mosque and madarsa’ continues to simmer. It was quite unfortunate that in the ensuing violence officially five persons died and scores injured.

No doubt violence of any kind cannot be justified and people’s opposition to government’s steps should always remain in the bounds of constitution.


The letter written by a group of former civil servants addressed to the Chief Secretary of the State 1which requests the administration to take urgent action’ to ‘prevent the situation from deteriorating further’ and also asks the government to take steps to provide immediate relief and ‘perceive to the neutral in enforcing the law’ conveys the existing situation in a succinct manner.

It raises valid questions regarding ‘continuance of curfew despite claims by the administration about bringing situation under control’, shares credible reports of ‘beating of residents – including women and children’, ‘damaging their property’ ‘illegal detaining of people and not producing them before courts,  not allowing them to contact lawyers’, and also talks of ‘exodus of people from the affected area’ (-do-)


A visit by a fact finding team of civil liberty and human rights organisations and concerned individuals corroborates the concerns expressed by former civil servants. It underlines how ‘Tension and resentment simmer in Haldwani as police are accused of illegally detaining and torturing hundreds of people, and denying them access to lawyers’2 Former civil servant Harsh Mander, the founder of Karwan-e-Mohabbat, who was part of the fact finding team shared it openly that ‘..[U]ttarakhand government seemed to have invited and engineered the violence.’ (-do-)


The alleged laxity, lack of professionalism and the unnecessary hurry displayed by the administration has also come under scanner at various levels. Statements issued by civil liberty activists, writers etc which were even submitted to the governor or other higher officials underline it vividly. 3 Concerns have already been raised that the police/ administration involved in demolition allegedly ‘did not even take into consideration intel inputs. 4 


There are increasing demands that a judicial enquiry preferably under a retired judge of the Supreme Court should be ordered so that a clear picture of the whole incident emerges. 5

It would be opportune to recall the role of the Supreme Court itself, which had last year, stayed the displacement order of the Uttarakhand High Court, which had ordered evacuation of the whole area Banphulurpurwa  . 6

Honourable judges of the courts must have been impressed that that thousands of these people – a large section of them belonging to minority communities – had been living besides the railway lines for decades together, had proofs of residence as well in the form of ration cards etc and as per Article 14 of the Constitution it would be transgressing their fundamental rights if they be uprooted without making any alternate arrangements. These people had launched a peaceful mass movement to defend their rights – which were joined in by other sections of the civil society as well.


Dear Sir, after this brief background of the prevailing situation in Haldwani, let me summarise the key concern of this letter which relates to recovery notice issued to the accused that is being portrayed as the mastermind of the whole violence. He has been asked to deposit Rs 2.4 crores in three days to pay compensation for the damage to public property on the day of demolition. 7

And this despite the fact that no enquiry is still complete, not even a single case against the alleged miscreants has been sent to courts, forget any such judgment, which has put its stamp on the government narrative.

It is being said that it is for the first time that such a strict action is being taken against ‘miscreants’ 8

What is further disturbing to note that all these action resonate with what  Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami had reportedly said after violence in Banphulpurwa area, that ‘no type of anarchy will be tolerated in DevBhumi and miscreants will have to compensate for damage to government property. 9


You would recall that it was the two judge bench of honourable Supreme Court itself led by you and Justice Surykant which had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to  withdraw such recovery notices issued by it to accused in the anti CAA movement.

Your had rightly said that the Uttar Pradesh government has acted like a “complainant, adjudicator and prosecutor by itself” in conducting the proceedings to attach the properties of the accused. 10In fact, how such issuance of recovery notice was beyond the purview of law was already analysed by legal eagles in the field. 11

It is now history how with a tough stand adopted by the Supreme Court, ultimately forced the UP government to withdraw the notices.12


As of now for people in Haldwani – especially belonging to religious minorities living in the atmosphere of fear and anxiety – where it is even extremely difficult to find a lawyer to fight your own case, it is humongous challenge even to challenge this order of recovery in any of the courts, despite the fact that it completely violates Supreme Courts judgment.

One does not know how things will unfold in future.

Anyone who has looked closely at the trajectory of the Uttarakhand government in recent years as far as defending Constitutionally granted rights of minorities are concerned, 13 it is rather difficult to imagine that it will relook at its order and rescind it immediately so as not to be seem violating SC’s decision.

My humble query before you is that who can rein in the executive if it seems to violate the highest courts own directions.

Yours sincerely

Subhash Gatade

Writer, Translator and left activist




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