The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing on a plea by the Gujarat government to stay the state 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.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra 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 to holy places during the riots. The bench later adjourned the matter for July 9.
Appearing for the state,Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta and counsel Hemantika Wahi submitted that the high court order was erroneous as under the Constitution’s secular principles,there cannot be funding to religious bodies by any government.
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.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala 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.