The Gujarat High Court on Friday directed the State government to pay compensation to and rehabilitate 45 families, most of them victims of the 2002 communal riots, within a week.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyaya and Justice Akil Kureshi upheld the petition filed by the victims and asked the Gujarat government to pay a compensation of Rs. 5,000 to each of the families rendered “virtually homeless” by the Ahmedabad municipal corporation.

The petitioners — Gagan Sethi, who run a voluntary organisation, and some others — pointed out that some of the victims were re-settled in houses in “Siyasatnagar colony,” constructed by a voluntary organisation near the Chandola Talav on the outskirts of the city at a cost of about Rs. 30 lakh.

The colony of 172 houses, however, was demolished by the municipal corporation in November last year on the grounds of it being an unauthorised construction. A school, madrassa and some other structures were also demolished without giving any notice to the occupants, the petitioners pointed out.

To an assurance given by State Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi — that the State had decided to rehabilitate all the affected families except those identified as foreign nationals — the court asked the government whether it had so far identified them.

The court was informed that 45 families were found to be Indian citizens and the remaining were unauthorised occupants having illegally migrated from Bangladesh. Following the disclosure, it directed the government to allot a plot of land to each of the 45 families and also compensate them in cash.