Srinagar: Twenty-six years after being hit by bullets during a cross-firing incident in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar, a 34-year- old man has finally got some relief. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the state government to pay compensation of Rs 15 lakh to the victim.
Ashiq Hussain Farash of Theed, Harwan, was only nine when he was caught in a cross-firing incident between militants and Indian forces in heart of the city on December 17, 1990. Young Ashiq suffered bullet injuries on the right side of his chest, right collar bone and had nerve damage on his right wrist. A critically injured Ashiq was rushed to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, where he was admitted for around twenty days. However, doctors at SKIMS could not do much and he was advised to go to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for specialised treatment. But as Ashiq came from a poor family, his parents could not afford to take him to New Delhi for treatment.
Lack of proper treatment badly affected the health of the minor. Ashiq was rendered handicapped as he could no longer move his right arm. He became dependant on others as was not able to work.
In 2011 i.e., two decades after the incident, Ashiq was provided a paltry amount of Rs 20,000 as ex-gratia relief by Deputy Commissioner Srinagar. Ashiq challenged the order of the DC before the High Court seeking compensation of Rs 20 lakh and a class-IV job. Advocate Manzoor Ahmed Dar pleaded his case before the court. “State is duty-bound to pay compensation and appoint him on a class IV post as he is middle pass,” advocate Dar argued before the single bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar.
On the other hand, Additional Advocate General NH Shah on behalf of the state government vehemently argued that Farash’s plea was not maintainable as a civil suit filed by him on same cause was dismissed for non-prosecution. Shah also submitted that at the time of sustaining the injury, Ashiq was a minor.
However the court in its judgment observed that, “in a society like ours, governed by rule of law, more particularly when basic human rights are recognised by the constitution, it becomes the duty of the state to protect life, liberty and property of its citizens.” The court observed that due to injuries Ashiq has been deprived of practicing any profession, trade or business as guaranteed by the constitution.
“It’s because of the action of the state, the guarantee contained in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, has been infringed, in as much as he is not in a position to lead his life as a normal human being, which status Almighty had given to him as he was born as an able-bodied person and was working as a labourer for making ends meet,” the court said, observing that the state was duty bound to adequately compensate him.
“In our constitutional scheme, it is constitutional provisions and laws of the land and other laws, which govern the state. The state, having failed to enforce the constitutional provisions, has, in turn, failed in its duty to protect (Ashiq Hussain Farash) and has also failed in allowing him to lead his life as an able bodied person. (It) is duty bound to compensate the petitioner,” the court said.
The court rejected the state government plea about the dismissal of civil suit for non-prosecution: “It means nothing is decided by the civil court on merits. It will not render this petition unsustainable in law.”
Subsequently, the court disposed of the petition with a direction to the state government to pay Rs15 lakh as compensation to Ashiq Hussain Farash within four weeks.