Across Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh this year the state has bulldozed the homes of people accused of various crimes ranging from selling Chinese manjha to rape and rioting. Despite the veneer of carrying out anti-encroachment campaigns, the failure to observe due process, such as giving sufficient notice to the accused to appeal against the demolition, was manifest. Among the various injustices involved here, a glaring one is that collective punishment is prohibited in modern legal systems. Besides that the accused has the right to be held innocent until his guilt is proven by a court, his family is certainly not punishable alongside him.
Also read: Bulldozer razes home of ‘hub’ of Prayagraj unrest
When municipal authorities in Prayagraj bulldozed the two-storey house of Javed Mohammad on Sunday, the coincidence of his arrest in connection with Friday’s protests against Nupur Sharma which turned violent was glaring. The argument about all the bulldozer cases above is not that the victims are innocent, because that can only be decided by the courts, which must intervene here as well. It is that the pursuit of proper penal provisions should be first and last rather than replaced by an anarchic raj bulldozer – which represents a dangerous weakening of any institution that is complicit in it.
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