Chief Justice Govind Mathur Of Allahabad High Court Will Be Remembered As A Defender Of Civil Liberties

first_imgTop StoriesChief Justice Govind Mathur Of Allahabad High Court Will Be Remembered As A Defender Of Civil Liberties Akshita Saxena13 April 2021 10:13 PMShare This – xJustice Govind Mathur has retired as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court. Originally from Rajasthan High Court, Justice Mathur was transferred to the Allahabad High Court in November 2017. He served as a Chief Justice of the High Court for a little over two years. In this short span, Justice Mathur made his mark as a fearless defender of personal liberty and human rights….Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginJustice Govind Mathur has retired as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court. Originally from Rajasthan High Court, Justice Mathur was transferred to the Allahabad High Court in November 2017. He served as a Chief Justice of the High Court for a little over two years. In this short span, Justice Mathur made his mark as a fearless defender of personal liberty and human rights. In his farewell speech delivered yesterday in a virtual function, Chief Justice Mathur said that he was inspired by the ideals of Dr BR Ambedkar, with whom he incidentally shares his birthday. Here is a list of significant judgments passed by benches led by CJ Mathur: UP Govt’s Anti-Conversion Ordinance: Chief Justice Mathur refuses to defer hearing During hearing of petitions challenging the UP Government’s controversial anti-religious conversion Ordinance, the CJ-led Bench refused to defer hearing of the matter simply because similar petitions were also filed before the Top Court. While extending protection to one Nadeem, booked by the UP Police under the said law, the Bench fearlessly observed that pendency before the Supreme Court does not preclude the High Court from hearing a challenge against the law. Later, the Supreme Court also refused to interfere in the High Court proceedings, reinstating that High Courts are “Constitutional Courts”, fully empowered to decide the matter concerning fundamental rights and personal liberty. Police excesses in AMU Violence: A Human Rights Violation In January 2020, a Division Bench led by Chief Justice Mathur ordered inquiry into alleged police excesses at the Aligarh Muslim University, during protests against the current Government’s pilot project, the Citizenship Amendment Act. Terming the incident to be a ‘human rights violation’ the Court had stated, “Section 12 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 charges National Human Rights Commission as well as the State Human Rights Commission with duty for proper implementation as well prevention of violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms available to every human being. Under the Act of 1993 the Commission may inquire suo motu or on a petition relating to the students for violation of human rights or abatement thereof or negligence in prevention of such violation by a public servant.” It thus constituted a six-member team of the NHRC, which recommended that action must be taken against the delinquent policemen in accordance with the law apart from compensating the injured students. Accordingly, the Court directed the Director General of Police of the UP Government to identify and take action against the errant policemen. A direction was also made to sensitize the police force and to impart special training so as to inculcate “professionalism” in handling such situations. The order came as a huge relief to students who were not only subjected to unwarranted brutality at the hands of executive but were also being projected as anti-nationals for raising a voice of dissent. Name & Shame Banners: Violation Of Right To Privacy In March, the same year, Justice Mathur’s bench was prompt in safeguarding the fundamental right to privacy of individuals allegedly involved in anti-CAA protests, whose photos and personal details were published by the UP Govt in its infamous “Name & Shame Banners”. While taking suo moto cognizance of the matter based on certain news reports, the High Court observed that the Government action had an “injurious effect” on the precious rights enshrined under the Constitution and that the Courts cannot “shut its eyes” if a public unjust is happening just before it. These remarks later resonated in Justice Mathur’s message on the occasion of 129th anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar, the chief architect of Indian Constitution. He said, “Being member of the judicial fraternity, the responsibility lies in higher degree on our shoulders to ensure promotion and protection of all constitutional ideals and values. These values are not meant to be adhered by state only, but these must be the way of our life and in day to day activities of every citizen.” Keeping in view the urgency of the issue involved, the Court held a special sitting to hear the matter on a non-working day and it concluded that the UP Govt had failed to show why the personal data of few persons had been placed on banners and it thus amounted to an “unwanted interference” with the citizens’ right to privacy. Undoubtedly, the Name & Shame banners had the effect of fixing liability on individuals without a trial and the High Court made extensive observations against such “colorable exercise of powers” by the Executive. “We do not find any necessity for a democratic society for a legitimate aim to have publication of personal data and identity. The accused persons are the accused from whom some compensation is to be recovered and in no manner they are fugitive. Learned Advocate General also failed to satisfy us as to why placement of the banners is necessary for a democratic society for a legitimate aim,” the order read. Migrants Issue: High Court took suo moto action During the course of the national lockdown, the High Court was alive to the hardships being faced by the weaker end of the society, especially migrant labours. It therefore ordered that an officer should be appointed over groups of 400 migrants, to keep a regular check on their “health and living conditions”. To ensure that the direction does not remain a mere empty formality, the High Court specifically ordered that such officers shall: enquire about the well-being of the migrants through Mobile Numbers which shall be maintained by those officers. enquire about the healths of the persons entered in their lists, on a daily basis. if they find that food is not being made available to anyone in the list, shall make proper arrangements to see that food is made available. With respect to the migrants who were stranded in other States/ were walking towards their home towns in UP, the Court sought a detailed report on the facilities being provide to them. This direction was in addition to the Standard Operating Protocol issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on movement of stranded workers. Further, to address the issue on a long-term basis, Justice Mathur directed the Government to prepare a scheme for rehabilitation of migrants and to come out with employment layout to reduce migration of the natives of Uttar Pradesh to other parts of the country to earn minimum livelihood. Kafeel Khan’s Case: Court upholds Personal Liberty A bench headed by Chief Justice Mathur set aside the detention orders passed against Gorakhpur-based paediatrician Dr. Kafeel Khan, under the stringent National Security Act, 1980, allegedly for giving a provocative speech during an anti-CAA protest last year. He had been languishing in the Mathura Jail since January 2020. The High Court rapped the local District Magistrate who had passed the detention order under NSA in February this year, for a ‘selective reading’ of Khan’s speech and selective mention of few phrases from his speech, “ignoring its true intent”. Dr. Khan, who addressed a group of AMU students during protests against the contentious CAA Bill, inter alia, made insinuations against ‘Mota Bhai’ of promoting communalism instead of humanism. Chief Justice Mathur observed that Dr. Khan’s remarks in fact called for “national integrity and unity among the citizens” and that the speech had nothing which affected public peace. “A complete reading of the speech prima facie does not disclose any effort to promote hatred or violence. It also no where threatens peace and tranquility of the city of Aligarh. The address gives a call for national integrity and unity among the citizens. The speech also deprecates any kind of violence,” the High Court observed in a much-celebrated ruling. It made significant remarks with respect to right to liberty of citizens as reiterated below: “Preventive detention is an exceptional mode to curtail liberty and freedom of a person in exceptionally rare circumstances. Under Article 21 of the Constitution of India along with the right to life, the right to personal liberty is a precious fundamental right. This precious fundamental right must always be protected.” In another significant ruling, Justice Mathur called for remedial actions to improve the conditions at a local prison. “Prisoners too are having human-rights,” a CJ-led Bench categorically held while taking exception to over-crowding in prisons. Covid Crisis: Preventing People From Inflicting Self Harm The High Court is also keeping tabs on the steps being taken by the local authorities to prevent the transmission of Covid 19 virus in the state. The suo moto plea registered by the Bench of Justice Mathur to monitor the conditions of Quarantine Centers in the State, has now been assigned to another Division Bench comprising Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar, to track day to day steps being taken by the local authorities to implement social distancing norms.In an order passed earlier this month, a bench headed by CJ Mathur asked Government to consider giving COVID vaccination to all, including those below the age of 45 years. Recently, the High Court expressed strong displeasure over reports of people not adhering to the “mask rule” amid the Covid-19 pandemic. A CJ-led Bench directed the District Administration including Police Authorities to get into action and see that there is 100% masking in every district of the State.He also took suo moto cognizance of police atrocities against a lawyer in Etah and ordered judicial enquiry. Conclusion The orders passed by Justice Mathur are an intangible reflection of his solemn faith in the Constitution, which got reflected in a message given by him on the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar: “The Constitution of India is not a simple law book or testament for do’s and dont’s, but a well finished path for socio-economic and political progress of India as a nation and as a federal society of its citizens with adequate freedom to all the stakeholders to protect and promote their healthy traditions and values. In our day to day life as well as while discharging our official duties we must commit ourselves for the core constitutional values those acquired shape during our freedom struggle and put in words by the Drafting Committee under leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.”Subscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more