Court orders relief for Gujarat riot victims

Gandhinagar, June 30 (Calcutta Tube) The Gujarat High Court Wednesday directed the central and the state governments to take a decision to release compensation for a group of 2002 riot victims which has not received any relief yet.

The court also directed the state government to sympathetically consider pleas for jobs made by the next of kin of government employees killed in the riots.

The court was acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Gagan Sethi, seeking compensation for the 2002 riot victims.

The petitioner’s advocate, Amit Panchal, said that 752 riot victims, who were identified after the central government released the money for compensation, have not been paid anything.

The petition said that the government did not pay any compensation to owners of industrial and commercial property damaged in the riots.

The high court came down heavily on the central government’s advocate when he could not answer to a court’s query on payment of compensation to victims.

The central government under its compensation scheme released the money to the state and directed the state to pay 10 times more than the state-declared ex-gratia payment.

It also told the state government to deduct from the central package, the relief already paid by it.

The central government claimed that it initially had released Rs.50 crore and later it released Rs.212.44 crore for ex-gratia payment to the riot victim.

After this, the state government identified 752 fresh cases of victims who had not received any compensation.

The state government said that it could not disburse money to the 752 victims as the central government had not released the money for disbursement.

A division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice K.M. Thaker said that the central government and the state government seem to have kept the court in the dark.

‘Please don’t keep the court in the dark. You and the state, both seem to keep the court in the dark,’ the chief justice said.

The court asked the central government to prove whether it actually released the money to the state.

‘The state claims that they’ve not received the money. They don’t have to prove that they’ve not received the money. Now you need to prove it that you’ve paid,’ the chief justice said.

The case has been posted for further hearing on Sep 27.

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