Acting suo motu on media reports, in particular The Hindu's, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Mayawati government to stop all construction activities at the Kanshi Ram Memorial Sthal and other sites in Lucknow.
A Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and Aftab Alam took serious note of the contents of The Hindu's report, published on September 11, that construction activity at the Kanshiram Sthal and other memorials was going on despite the undertaking, given by the Uttar Pradesh government counsel S.C. Mishra on September 8, that the work would be stopped.
The Bench said it appeared from media reports that work was progressing in full swing. It directed that "activities of all manner and kinds, whether construction, repair or maintenance, shall stop forthwith at all the construction sites covered by the previous order of this court and all the construction sites shall be vacated of the entire workforce, excepting the watch and ward staff, within six hours from now, i.e by 7 p.m."
The judges said: "Having regard to the way this matter has proceeded, we are unable to ignore or dismiss the media reports; more so, as the record of the State of Uttar Pradesh in adhering to its undertakings given to the court in the past has not been exemplary."
The Bench said: "In view of the developments, we direct the Chief Secretary to file show-cause by September 17 stating in unambiguous terms the nature of work, if any, that was allowed to be carried on at the projects in question after September 8."
The court also directed The Times of India, The Hindu and NDTV to submit by September 17 all materials in their possession along with affidavits in support of their reports.
"We generally don't go by newspaper reports. We ignore them," Justice Agrawal told senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the State, when the hearing began. "But not one report, many reports have come. In particular, today's The Hindu carried a detailed report about the activities. You can't play hide and seek with the court. If the facts stated in The Hindu are correct, you are playing with fire."
Justice Alam said it was a very serious matter. "Our orders cannot be violated. We feel that under the pretext of maintenance work, the undertaking is clearly violated."
"You rise above your brief and advise your government to stop all activities," Justice Alam told Mr. Salve. Counsel said he fully agreed with the court's sentiments.
Further hearing would be held on September 18.