Strongly indicting the Akhilesh Yadav government of Uttar Pradesh over the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar last year, the Supreme Court Wednesday held it prima facie guilty of negligence in preventing the violence and ordered it to immediately arrest all those accused irrespective of their political affiliation.
“We prima facie hold the state government responsible for being negligent at the initial stage in not anticipating the communal violence and for taking necessary steps for its prevention,” said a bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam.
It also blamed the Central government for its failure to provide intelligence inputs to the Samajwadi Party-ruled state government in time to help sound alerts. The bench, comprising Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, was of the view that if Central and State intelligence agencies smelt these problems and alerted the district administration, the killing of 59 people could have been prevented.
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The court underlined that neither the Centre nor the state government chose to tell the court in clear terms whether the district administration was sent an alert “about the proposed action between the two communities”.
Disposing of a bunch of petitions by the victims and residents of Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts, the court, however, turned down a plea for ordering a CBI probe into the riots “at this juncture”.
But it held that “more effective and stringent measures are to be taken by the state administration” and hence issued several directions pertaining to compensation to victims and their rehabilitation and free and fair investigation.
Reminding the state government of its responsibility “to prevent such recurrence of communal violence in any part of the state,” the bench said “sincere efforts shall be made to apprehend all the accused irrespective of political affiliation and produce them before the appropriate court”.
It ordered the state government to inform relevant courts about the criminal action taken against political persons and maintained that “the investigating authorities should eschew communal bias and proceed against all the offenders irrespective of their caste, community and religion.”
The court warned police officers and government officials of action if they were found to be biased or erring.
In the six rape cases reported from relief camps, the court said the state government’s special investigation cell shall arrest the accused in a time-bound manner. It ordered an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh to all rape victims, besides other rehabilitative assistance.
To the relatives of those dead in the violence, the court asked the UP government to pay Rs 15 lakh each as compensation, besides adequate compensation to farmers who lost their source of livelihood such as tractors, cattle and sugarcane crops.
It also restrained the state government from recovering the amount given to people for settling in other places if they want to come back to where they lived before the riots.