The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the state government to disburse, within four weeks, compensation to the next of kin of four persons, who lost their lives during the July 13, 2011 Mumbai triple bomb blasts.
The court observed that the delay in disbursement was caused as the government had not authorised the Thane district collector to issue the compensation amount under the Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/ Communal/ Naxal violence that came into effect from April 1, 2008. Asking the government to grant the authority to the collector in two weeks, Justices A S Oka and A S Chandurkar observed that this was a “fit case” to ask the government to pay interest to the eligible families from October 18, 2011, when the Centre had directed the compensation to be paid to the families by the collector.
The court observed that the Collector was authorised by the Centre to issue compensation by an amendment made to its scheme in June, 2012. The Thane district collector had written to the state government about the same on September 23, 2013. However, since a secretary was not available to issue the necessary sanction for the Collector to disburse the compensation.
A PIL was filed by activist Prakash Sheth, seeking compensation for the families of Himmatbhai Gadiya and Bhupatbhai Navadiya from Mira Road, Baburam Das from Bhyander (east) and Lalchand Ahuja from Ulhasnagar, who were killed in blasts at Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar. Under the Central scheme, the legal heirs of the deceased are entitled to receive Rs 3 lakh as compensation.
The court asked the state to disburse compensation to the four families and others similarly placed. The court asked the government to file a reply stating whether there were similar cases entitled to the benefit of the Central scheme that were stranded as the government had not granted the necessary sanction to the collectors.
The court reminded the state government that granting compensation to the families of the victims of terror attacks was not an act of grace on its part but its duty. “It appears that they (state government) want to give help,” remarked Justice Oka, adding that they were obligated to disburse compensations.
Lawyer Rajeshwar Panchal, who filed a PIL, told the court that the compensation given to the deceased and injured needed to be enhanced based on the formula under the Motor Vehicle Act.