Observing it is an error on the part of authorities to think of compensation offered to victims as aid, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Central and state governments to reformulate the scheme provided for victims of terror, communal and naxal attacks.
Justices A S Oka and A S Chandurkar had on June 18 remarked that compensation to such victims could not be ex-gratia as it was the liability of
The court was acting on a PIL filed by lawyer Rajeshwar Panchal. The lawyer sought judicial intervention of ‘Right to Life dealt in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution’ in relation to victims of terror attacks and bombings in the country. Advocate S R Nargolkar, HC appointed amicus curiae (friend of court), submitted in court that the state should not give ex-gratia to such victims and rather it had to be a way of compensation.
It was state’s “constitutional obligation” to compensate as it was a failure on the part of the state to perform its duty in guaranteeing the Right to Life dealt in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, Nargolkar contended.
The Centre had earlier told the court that there was a scheme in this regard – Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/ Communal/ Naxal violence – that came into effect from April 1, 2008. They also admitted before the court that the PIL was in no way an “adversarial” one.
The PIL, filed by Panchal, claimed 724 people had died in terror attacks and blasts in Mumbai from 1993 till the Zaveri Bazaar blasts on July 13, 2011. It said the victims and their families had failed to get a “just compensation” from the respective state governments.
“After every such dreadful and gory terror attack, the ministers concerned condemn the incidents. They make empty promises to prevent such incidents and eventually declare some ex-gratia, which is always a tiny amount for the victims and their family members, that too, as if they
are obliging the victims,” the PIL stated.
To this, the court replied that in cases of custodial deaths, the Supreme Court and high courts had compensated victims by using the structured formula under the Motor Vehicles Act.
For compensation under the MV Act or Workmen Compensation Act, several factors like the victims’s life expectancy, monthly income, prospective raise in income and role in contributing to the family’s earnings are taken into consideration. The PIL also urged the HC to declare that the Right to Life and Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution includes right to secured life or the right to live with safety.
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