Counsel says sorry; fresh notification will cover all riot Muzaffarnagar victims

Taking a serious view of the Uttar Pradesh notification providing for a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh only to Muslims affected in the recent Muzaffarnagar riots for relocation, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the State government to recall the October 26 order and issue a fresh one to include all people hit by the violence.

A Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi made it clear that the U.P. government could not discriminate between victims on the basis of communities or religion.

The Chief Justice told senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the State: “Everyone is entitled to relief irrespective of community or religion. Maybe, this kind of attitude on the part of the State government forces one group to feel aggrieved. It is bound to cause division in the community. You [State] cannot do that. We are keeping these matters pending only because we want to ensure that all those affected get their minimum requirements… till they are relocated.”

Mr. Dhavan said: “I apologise for the manner in which the notification has been issued. We will recall it and issue a fresh notification, and all affected people will be entitled to compensation.”

Manohar Lal Sharma, appearing for some of the riot-hit people, who made the submission on the October 26 notification, also alleged that local Jats people were harassed by the police and no action was being taken on their complaints. He explained that a minor eve-teasing incident blew up into communal riots. He said the State was yet to file its response and the Bench sought the government’s response on this petition also.    

The Bench, while taking on record the further measures taken by the Centre and the State, said it would continue to monitor relief and rehabilitation measures. The court directed the State to provide compensation also to farmers whose sugarcane crops and tubewells were damaged. When the court was informed that tractors belonging to Jats were seized by the police, the Bench asked the government respond to this charge.

Senior counsel Pinky Anand, appearing for the father of the two Hindu boys who were killed in the riots, said the police had forcibly obtained an affidavit from him to the effect that his sons had killed a Muslim boy, Shah Nawaz, and that this incident triggered the violence. The Bench, while asking the U.P. government to file its response, posted a batch of petitions filed by Mohd. Haroon and others to December 12 for further hearing.