Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday directed government to provide ex-gratia relief to kith and kin of all those persons who were killed in “civil disturbance” during 2010 instead of restricting it to deaths between June 11 and September 25.
The direction was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi after perusal of a status report filed by the state’s Home Department in compliance to the last directions which were passed during the hearing of a PIL filed by JKLF which said that 117 persons were killed during the agitation.
The government has given status of 116 deaths out those pointed out by the JKLF. One case has been counted twice, the government has said. In some cases, the government has also contended the claim regarding victimhood due to the unrest.
“In the report it has been clarified that out of 116 claimants (for grant of ex-gratia), the claim (Rs 5 lakh each) has been disbursed to 105 persons, and only the cases of 11 persons have been excepted for the reason that kith and kin were not killed in the civil disturbances before June 11 to September 25 2010,” the bench observed.
Some of them, the report said, have died for the reason not attributable to civil disturbances or law and order.
“The exclusion of persons from January 2010 to December 2010 (except June 11 to 25 September) would not be sustainable because there is no reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved by fixing a cut of date of June to September 2010,” the bench said.
“It has come on record that civil disturbances were reported throughout the year 2010. All the cases between January and December 2010 need to be considered.”
However, the court said, it would not be mean that those cases would also receive consideration who have died due to the reason other than civil disturbances.
In the list annexure with report, court said, some cases have been given which fall in that category where ex-gratia has been denied on account of cut of date and reasons not attributable to civil disturbance.
“In view of the opinion expressed by us in various orders including (June 6, 2013) as well in the present order, the cases are required to be segregated by granting ex-gratia to those who have been killed between January to December 2010 excluding (the period June 11 to September 25, 2010),” the court said.
However, it said, in the cases where deaths have taken which are not attributable to civil disturbances, may be identified. “Once the state government writes to central government for grant of ex-gratia to the deserving persons, then the same shall be accepted and suitable grant shall be released,” the court said and posted the PIL for further consideration on June 21.
Earlier, the court pulled up the Home Department after finding signature of Under Secretary on the status report.
“The status report has to be filed by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Secretary as per the business rules. We have in earlier proceedings expressed reservations to the filing of status report by Under Secretary. However, the same has not been taken seriously,” the court said.
To this Additional Advocate General R A Khan said that it was “sheer mistake” and it shall not be repeated.
Accordingly, the court accepted the instant status report as one time exception and direct the state to circulate a letter by the quoting the rules in this regard.
“In future, if the status report is filed by the person who is not competent to file the same, the matter shall be dealt with strictly and serious note of the lapse would be taken,” the court added.
The petitioner, advocate Sofi Imtiyaz, was represented by senior lawyer Z A Shah while S A Makroo, Assistant Solicitor General, appeared on behalf of government of India.