The Supreme Court on Monday held that the award of higher compensation by the Jammu and Kashmir government to State subjects among the victims of the Kishtwar violence last year was permissible under the State’s Constitution.
“Protective treatment towards State subjects is permissible under the special provisions of the J&K Constitution [Article 35A as applicable to the State of J&K],” said a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana, disposing of petitions filed by the Panthers Party and others seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the violence and payment of compensation.
“Enhanced compensation to State subjects who are members of the Central Armed Police Forces was considered necessary to reduce the disparity in the total amount of ex gratia received, including the amount awarded by the Central Government and by the different States to which a non-State subject may belong,” Justice Gogoi said.
“It is in these circumstances that a distinction between State and non-State subjects has been made.”
The Bench said: “In view of the explanations furnished, we do not find any fundamental error in the policy of the State in awarding a higher amount of compensation to State subjects who are members of CAPF [Central Armed Police Force], so as to require a further probe into the constitutionality or validity of the compensation scheme framed by the State government.”
On the demand for an SIT probe, the Bench said the State government had already appointed a commission of inquiry with wide terms of reference. The Bench asked the commission to complete its inquiry as early as possible, preferably within three months, if the final report had not already been submitted in the meantime.
“The government will naturally be duty-bound to take all necessary and consequential steps on the basis of the said report as would be mandated in law,” the Bench said.
“Payment in the nature of ex-gratia compensation already paid and is proposed to be made is ad hoc in nature and subject to outcome of the report of the commission of inquiry,” it added.