Gujarat High Court issues contempt notice to Modi government in riots case

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The Gujarat high court on Wednesday issued contempt notice to it for not obeying its order to compensate people whose shops were burnt down in the post-Godhra riots...

In fresh trouble for the Narendra Modi government, the Gujarat high court on Wednesday issued contempt notice to it for not obeying its order to compensate people whose shops were burnt down in the post-Godhra riots.

The notice comes a week after the court indicted the state government for non-restoration of religious places destroyed in the communal frenzy.

A division bench of justices Akil Kureshi and C L Soni asked the Ahmedabad district collector to reply by March 14 as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated, based on a petition filed by 56 riot victims whose shops were gutted during the 2002 riots.

56 shop owners whose establishments had been burnt down in Rakhial area of the city had applied for compensation after the Centre announced additional relief package for riot victims in February 2008.

As there was no response from the district authority, they moved the high court through NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch, seeking direction to the collector to consider their applications and provide compensation.

Based on their application, the court had passed an order in September last year directing the collector to examine their applications for compensation.

The petitioners said early this month they received a communication from the collector's office that all the 56 applications had been dismissed in August 2011 itself.

Following the communication, the victims filed a contempt petition against the collector and the state government for not complying with court's order.

Alleging that the collector's office did not present full facts of the case to the court, the petitioners said since the court's September ordered was subsequent to disposal of their applications, non-payment of compensation amounted to contempt of court.

In a scathing indictment of the Modi government, the Gujarat high court had on February 8 termed the 2002 riots as "negligence of the State" and censured it for "inaction", holding that it had resulted in an "anarchic" situation.

The court passed strictures against the government while ordering it to pay for restoration of 500 odd religious structures destroyed during the riots on a petition by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat.