Settling the row surrounding the compensation for Jodhpur detainees of 1984 Operation Blue Star, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered that the civil suit filed before Amritsar court by the victims will be treated as “dismissed as withdrawn” even though compensation has been sanctioned as per the same local court decree.
After the detainees, through their lawyers, stated that with state and Union governments agreeing to compensate to them “unconditionally they would have no objection if their suits are treated to be dismissed as withdrawn”, the court dismissed the Centre’s appeal before it as “infructuous” due to the withdrawal of the civil suit itself. The decision was given earlier this week. The settlement before the High Court would mean that the civil suit decision by the Amritsar court would no longer stand in records even if the detainees will receive the compensation as detailed in the same order.
In his final order on Centre’s plea, Justice Ajay Tewari said: “In view of the stand of the Union of India and the State of Punjab, the various counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents have stated that since now the decreed amounts have been agreed to be paid unconditionally they would have no objection if their suits are treated to be dismissed as withdrawn after the due payments are made/deposited. Ordered accordingly.”
The single bench while ‘disposing of’ Centre’s appeal after it was rendered infructuous due to the withdrawal of the civil suit itself further said in the order, “These cases give rise to very intractable and emotional issues which can have far-reaching consequences not only on the respondents but on the country as a whole.”
The Union government, in its appeal before the HC, had challenged the lower court order asking it and Punjab government to give compensation to the detainees. However, on Monday, Centre told the High Court that it had sanctioned Rs 2.16 crore for compensation of the detainees. Additional Solicitor General of India, Satya Pal Jain, during the hearing on Monday, also told the single bench that though the Centre has agreed to pay the amount to the 40 individuals, it has objections to the strictures passed against the Army and Centre by the lower court in its order last year.
Since the civil suits will now be treated as ‘dismissed as withdrawn’ in accordance with the High Court decision, the Centre with the settlement has managed to fulfill the objective of its appeal even if the lower court order has not been decided or dismissed on merits by the High Court.
“The matter has been amicably settled. It was decided that a request would be made to the plaintiffs that since the payment will be made, they should withdraw the suit in Amritsar court,” Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain said Thursday.
The Centre’s decision to appeal against the lower court order had come under much criticism in Punjab with the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh even writing to the Centre that the appeal against the compensation ordered by the lower court had evoked strong reaction among the Sikh community. It is learned that after the political controversy in Punjab, many meetings were held in Delhi and Punjab to find an amicable settlement to the issue which was agreeable to both the parties.
The 40 Sikhs, who will receive compensation, were among total 365 detainees who had been detained by Army and police after the Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple in 1984, and had been awarded the compensation by an Amritsar court on April 12, 2017.