SC anguished over UP identifying riot victims by religion

SC said it was "deeply pained" as UP govt, in two reports, gave details of affected people in communal violence in Muzaffarnagar on basis of their religion.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said it was "deeply pained" as the Uttar Pradesh government, in two reports, gave the details of the affected people in the recent communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and other places on the basis of their religion.

"Death is a death" and the "segregation" of the riot-affected people by their religious identities has "deeply pained us", said a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi in the course of the hearing.

"We are not happy with your report," observed Chief Justice Sathasivam as senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan told the court about steps taken by the state government for rehabilitation of the riot-affected people and follow-up police action to make people account for their acts leading to communal flare-up.

Giving the details of the steps it had taken, the state government sought to dust itself of anything in which politics or electoral considerations could be read.

It contended that there was no "bias" in handling the situation including extending relief and rehabilitation and proceedings against the people for their acts of alleged violence and instigation of mobs.

The issue under examination, Dhawan told the court was whether there was a "communal bias in the handling of the situation".

As advocate M.L. Sharma sought to project that Jats were being discriminated in relief and rehabilitation measures, Dhawan said that "if there are cases of discrimination, then he should specifically point out so that it could be addressed".

At this, Chief Justice Sathasivam intervened. "We can`t take it lightly. You will respond to Sharma`s application," he said.

As counsel Prashant Bhushan sought to press for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the revelation in a sting operation that police officials were not given a free hand in dealing with the situation, Dhawan urged the court to allow the state government to place before it all the details and then the court could look into the plea for an independent probe.

Allowing the plea by Dhawan for more time, the court adjourned the hearing and directed the listing of the matter on Nov 21, asking the Uttar Pradesh government to file its report by Nov 18 and make the copies of it available to all the parties.