Victims of the Kandhamal Communal Riots to be given additional compensation

Supreme Court: In a public interest litigation seeking 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, highlighting the 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 Court said that the ends of justice would be met if the State Government and the Central Government are directed to pay additional compensations in the light of the inadequacy of the compensation awarded initially.

Regarding the prayer of deploying adequate police forces, the Court held that Strengthening of police infrastructure in the District will undoubtedly help in curbing any re-occurrence of such communal violence but at the same time peace building measures must also be undertaken. The Court also directed the State Government to enquire into and find the causes for such communal unrest and strengthen the fabric of the Society. The Court also took note of the fact 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. The Court said that such large proportion is quite disturbing and that 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 was considered as a matter of concern and the concerned authorities were directed to see that the matters are taken up wherever acquittals were not justified on facts.

The bench of T.S. Thakur, CJI and U.U. Lalit, J reiterated the words of the Court in Ahmedabad St. Xavier’s College Society v. State of Gujarat, (1974) 1 SCC 717, where it was said that 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. 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. [Archbishop Raphael Cheenath S.V.D v. State of Orissa, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 761, decided on 02.08.2016]

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