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Compensation Awarded to Uttarakhand Agitators

From Our Staff Correspondent (The Hindu)

LUCKNOW, Feb. 9, 1996

In a judgment of far-reaching consequences, the Allahabad High Court today awarded a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs each to the dependents of those killed during the agitation for creation of a separate hill State of Uttarakhand comprising the Kumaon and Garhwal divisions of Uttar Pradesh. The Court also ordered payment of compensation totalling Rs. 2.5 lakhs each to those who had sustained grievous injuries resulting in permanent disability and Rs. 50,000 each for other injured persons and those illegally detained by the administration. The number of such persons was about 400.

In its judgment in the case of human rights violations during the agitation which was launched when Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav was Chief Minister of U.P., the Court held that the crime of rape was parallel to that of causing death and the rape victims were also awarded a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs each. Those subjected to sexual molestation were awarded Rs. 5 lakhs each.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Mr. Justice R. S. Dhawan and Mr. Justice A. B. Srivastava passed the orders on a bunch of six writ petitions filed on behalf of different groups of persons, the main one coming from the Uttarakhand Sangharsh Samiti.

On October 7, 1994, the Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the cases of human rights violations committed by the police officials during the agitation by the hill people to press their demand for a separate hill State.

The Court observed that there was no need to go through the process of seeking Government sanction to proceed against any guilty official as it could be no part of the official duties of Government servants to shoot, molest or rape unprotected citizens.

It was suggested that the State Government might consider establishment of a Human Rights Commission to deal with complaints arising within the State as envisaged in the Human Rights Act, 1992.

Observing that unusual belligerence had been shown towards the people demonstrating for the hill State, the Court ordered payment of damages as reparation to be made for constitutional wrongs committed against the `people of Kumaon and Garhwal’. The burden of the payment was to be shared by the Government of U. P. and the Central Government and it was to be an amount equivalent to one rupee per person per month, based on the population of the region, for a period of five years.

The Court ordered that the compensation amount be earmarked specifically for a programme for uplift of women. The specific allocations would be finalised by a committee under the chairmanship of the Commissioners of Kumaon and Garhwal and with the representatives to the State Assembly and the Lok Sabha from the respective area as also the district magistrates as its members.

Investigations which had not been completed by the CBI should be finalised and the charge-sheets submitted without any more delay, the Court ordered. Copies of such charge-sheets should be filed within two months on the record of these cases before the Court.

The Court observed that politics was moving away from health into a state in which politicians lost their perspective and regard for cardinal principles. The Court had ordered compensation of such amount to the victims as could be seen significant to act as a deterrent to such abuses in future.