The Delhi High Court has ordered the Centre to pay Rs 1.23 lakh in compensation to each person who was injured during the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms.

“It is the bounden duty and responsibility of the state to secure and safeguard the life and liberty of an individual from mob violence,” Justice Gita Mittal said in her landmark judgment which would benefit about 2,800 Sikhs injured during the riots in the capital.

Most importantly, to secure parity among all those who suffered injuries during the riots and were given an ex-gratia amount of Rs 2,000 only, Justice Mittal ordered that they all be paid the enhanced amount.

In the case of Bhajan Kaur, whose husband was killed when an angry mob at Tuglaqabad station stopped a train and pulled out Sikh passengers, a general order was passed in July 1996 ordering the Centre to to pay the enhanced compensation in all similar cases. 

In the case of Manjit Singh Sawhney, who was attacked at the same place along with his sister, the court asked the government to pay within a month the compensation plus Rs 11,000 for the cost of four years of litigation. Sawhney and his sister were pulled from the train, in an attack that left seven people dead. Sawhney was battered and dumped on the tracks after attackers assumed he was dead. The army brought him to New Delhi, and he was then moved to LNJP hospital. However, Sawhney got himself discharged so that he could search for his siter.

The Centre argued that it should not have to pay Shawhney additional compensation because there was no FIR or other documentation of the incident, and because he was discharged from the hospital very soon after the incident. The court disagreed, however, saying that the Centre’s attempt to take advantage of his early discharge was “unfair” and “insensitive” since “concern for his missing sister outweighed all concerns of his own injuries…”

The court took exception to the fact that the government did not have any records relating to the petition.

Noting that the cases relating to prosecution of those allegedly involved in the riots were still pending in courts, Justice Mittal lamented that “there has been little success at bringing the guilty to book and this has only compounded the hopelessness in the minds of the victims”.


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