Consider riot relief hike, SC tells Odisha

New Delhi, March 3: The Supreme Court today asked the Odisha government to consider a 20 per cent hike in compensation over and above the amount already paid to the 2008 Kandhamal riots victims.

By R. Balaji
  • Published 4.03.16
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Supreme Court

New Delhi, March 3: The Supreme Court today asked the Odisha government to consider a 20 per cent hike in compensation over and above the amount already paid to the 2008 Kandhamal riots victims.

The court also reminded the state that it was its responsibility to protect the people and compensate victims of organised violence and anarchy.

"You must also protect the people. When you can't prevent a state of anarchy, when people's houses have been looted, because you are unable to prevent it," the apex court told the Odisha government during a hearing on the 2008 Kandhamal riots in the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, however, said the enhanced compensation would be without prejudice to the victims' claim of higher compensation by way of separate civil suits before the appropriate courts in the state.

According to the state, it had so far paid compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to those killed, Rs 70,000 to those whose houses had been fully damaged and Rs 30,000 to those whose houses had been partially damaged.

The state, however, said it could not pay compensation to the 232 churches and other religious places of worship damaged during the riots as it was contrary to the secular policy and also most of these religious structures were built on government occupied land illegally.

The apex court also indicated that it might refer the issue to the State Human Rights Commission to issue appropriate directions.

The court granted a week's time to standing counsel for Odisha Shibashish Misra to file the state's response to the issue after which it would pass final directions to give "quietus" to it.

The apex court was dealing with a PIL filed by Odisha's archbishop Raphael Cheenath in 2008 relating to the communal riots perpetrated on members of the Christian community, which according to the petitioner had claimed 93 lives, besides massive destruction to private properties, including churches.

The state government had, however, insisted that there were only 32 deaths.

The apex court today also asked senior counsel Colin Gonzalves, who appeared for the Archbishop, to place before it two judgments delivered by Delhi High Court relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and J&K High Court on violence against Kashmiri pundits.

The two judgments had dealt with duties of the respective states to com-pensate victims of such organised violence when the state had remained a mute spectator.