The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain the Narendra Modi government’s plea for staying the Gujarat High Court’s February 8 order to pay compensation to over 500 shrines damaged during the infamous 2002 riots in the wake of Godhra train carnage.
While declining to entertain the plea, a bench of justices K. S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra also asked the State government to furnish details of the number of religious structures actually damaged and the financial cost of their reconstruction.
The apex court wanted to know if any survey or study was conducted on the actual damage and loss occurred to the holy places during the riots.
On February 8, the Gujarat government was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court for “inaction and negligence” on its part during the 2002 post-Godhra riots that led to large-scale destruction of religious structures.
High Court had ordered compensation for over 500 places of worships in the State on a plea by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG), an NGO.
The court also ordered that principal judges of 26 districts of the State will receive the applications for compensation of religious structures in their respective districts and decide on it. They have been asked to send their decisions to the High Court within six months.
Plea filed in 2003
The plea by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG) in 2003 had sought court’s directions to the government to pay compensation for damages to religious places during riots on the ground that the National Human Rights Commission, too, had recommended it and the State government had in principle accepted the suggestion.
Inadequacy, inaction and negligence on the part of the State government to prevent riots resulted in large-scale destruction of religious structures across the State, the High Court had observed.
The court had said when the government paid compensation for destruction of the houses and commercial establishments, it should also pay compensation for religious structures.
If the structures are already restored by now, the government should reimburse the amount spent on their restoration, the court said.
The High Court had directed that principal judges of all district courts in the State will decide on the applications for compensation to local shrines. The judges were asked to convey their rulings to the High Court within six months.