Supreme Court of India has directed the Odisha Government to pay additional Compensation to the victims of 2008 Communal Violence in Kandhamal District of Orissa.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice UU Lalit has disposed the Writ Petitions which have been filed in public interest seeking to highlight failure on part of State of Orissa in deploying adequate Police Force to maintain law and order in Kandhamal District of Orissa and in protecting innocent people whose human rights were violated after the unfortunate assassination of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and others on 23.08.2008 by some Maoists. The Petitions prayed for directions to the concerned authorities to provide proper and adequate facilities in refugee camps, to prevent communal violence, to provide adequate compensation to the victims of such communal violence, to order institution of Commission of Inquiry by a serving or a retired judge, to order investigation into the crimes committed during such violence by Central Bureau of Investigation and to set up special courts to deal with and try the offences committed during such violence.
The Supreme Court had passed various orders from time to time to ensure that the situation was brought under control and relief in full measure was extended to the victims. It considered the scales at which compensation has been granted and disbursed in the present matter. The Bench observed that the ends of justice would be met if the State Government and the Central Government are directed to pay additional compensations as set out in the chart below. The compensation suggested in Writ Petition No.404 of 2008 as against each of the categories is set out in Column No.2 while Column No.3 gives the figures of compensation already granted and disbursed. In our view, the additional compensation as detailed in Column No.4 ought to be paid to the victims or their family which will provide solace and succor.
However the Bench has rejected the prayer for further investigation by CBI holding that in all 827 cases of communal violence which were registered, it would not be proper to direct that the investigation and consequential steps be entrusted to the CBI.
The Bench has also expressed its concern over the cases registered after the incident.
“The affidavit filed on behalf of the State on 01.03.2013 discloses that out of 827 registered cases, 512 cases resulted in filing of charge-sheets while in 315 cases final reports were submitted. In other words, in 315 cases either no offence was found to have been made out or the offenders could not be detected. Such large proportion is quite disturbing. The State could do well in looking into all these 315 cases and see that the offenders are brought to book. Similarly, out of 362 trials which stand completed only 78 have resulted in conviction, which again is a matter of concern. The concerned authorities must see to it that the matters are taken up wherever acquittals were not justified on facts.”
The Bench has re-iterated the following observation of Nine Judge Bench of Supreme Court in Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society and another vs. State of Gujarat, about the protection of minorities :
“…..The minorities are as much children of the soil as the majority and the approach has been to ensure that nothing should be done, as might deprive the minorities of a sense of belonging, of a feeling of security, of a consciousness of equality and of the awareness that the conservation of their religion, culture, language and script as also the protection of their educational institutions is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. … It can, indeed, be said to be an index of the level of civilization and catholicity of a nation as to how far their minorities feel secure and are not subject to any discrimination or suppression.”
Read the Judgment here.