SC upholds higher damages to local victims in Jammu and Kashmir riots

New Delhi, April 7: The Supreme Court Monday upheld the Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to give higher compensation to victims of Kishtwar and Gool riots who were domiciled in the state compared to those belonging to outside the state.

In view of the explanation given by the Jammau and Kashmir government on the distinction between the state and non-state subjects, a bench of Chief Justice P.Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N.V.Ramana said: “We do not find any fundamental error in the policy of the State in awarding a higher amount of compensation to state subjects.”

Holding there was no infirmity in the state’s awarding higher compensation to state subjects and lesser to non-state subjects, Justice Gogoi, pronouncing the judgment, said that it did not consider necessary to “further probe into the constitutionality or validity of the compensation scheme framed by the state Government.”

Petitioner Sudesh Dogra, a functionary of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, had sought a judicial probe into the Aug 13, 2013 Kishtwar incident.

His plea had also sought a probe into the incident that took place on July 17-18 July, 2013 at Gool in Ramban district, in the course of which a large body of civilians had attacked a Border Security Force camp and four civilians had died and 44 others received serious injuries in the firing by the troopers.

It was also said that the state government was granting higher compensation to the state subjects than the non-state subjects and this offended equality before law under article 14 of the constitution.

Having held that state government could not be erred in granting two different level of compensation, the apex court said that till the report of the inquiry commission was received, “the payment of compensation on all counts has to be understood to be in the nature of ex-gratia, particularly, as identification and apportionment of liability is yet to be made. Such payments are ad-hoc in nature”.

The court slso said: “The state government is directed to ensure due and proper investigation of all such cases registered in connection with the two incidents in question if such investigation has not been completed in the meantime and thereafter bring all such cases to a logical end in accordance with law by completion of the trial against the accused, wherever necessary.”

Pointing to the submission that Commission of Inquiry that has been set up to inquire into two incidents may take a long time, the court has asked the probe panel to complete its work as early as possible.

“We,” request the Commission to complete its enquiry as early as possible, preferably, within a period of three months from today, if the final report has not already been submitted in the meantime.”

The court said that the state government would “naturally be duty bound to take all necessary and consequential steps on the basis of the said report as would be mandated in law”.