Furnish details of damaged shrines: SC to Guj govt

The Supreme Court Monday directed the Gujarat government to furnish details of over 500 shrines destroyed or damaged in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Gujarat government to furnish details of over 500 shrines destroyed or damaged in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.

Rejecting a plea by the Narendra Modi government, the SC adjourned the case to July 30 and sought an affidavit on the matter by that date.

The state government had sought a stay on the Gujarat High Court verdict slamming it for having failed to protect shrines. The HC verdict had come in response to a plea by the Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG).

The Supreme Court also said that it will examine whether a High Court, in exercising its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution, can direct a state government to compensate for damages caused to religious places during riots or natural calamities.
The Gujarat HC had on February 8 earlier this year ordered the state government to pay compensation to over 500 shrines damaged during the infamous 2002 riots in the wake of Godhra train carnage.

The apex court had last week also 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 SC bench had then adjourned the matter for July 9, i.e. today.

Appearing for the state, Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta and counsel Hemantika Wahi had submitted that the HC 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.

The plea by IRCG in 2003 had sought court`s directions to the government to pay compensation for damages to religious places during riots on the ground that the National Human Rights Commission, too, had recommended it and the state government had in principle accepted the suggestion.

Inadequacy, inaction and negligence on the part of the state government to prevent riots resulted in large-scale destruction of religious structures across the state, the HC had observed.

The court had said when the government paid compensation for destruction of houses and commercial establishments, it should also pay compensation for religious structures.

If the structures are already restored by now, the government should reimburse the amount spent on their restoration, the court said.

(With PTI inputs)