The Supreme Court Wednesday said that the rehabilitation of riot victims was a national responsibility and could not just be construed within legal and moral parameters.
Rehabilitating the riot victims was a “national liability and you have to be responsible not just legally or morally but in all dimensions of the word”, said an apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prajash Desai.
The court said this while directing the Punjab government not to evict some petitioners who were displaced due to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and were allegedly in illegal possession of accommodation meant for similarly-placed other riot victims.
The eviction from “unauthorised” possession of Dharminder Singh and other petitioners was ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court July 10.
The high court ordered “…we, accordingly, direct the deputy commissioner and commissioner of police, Ludhiana, to proceed in the matter in accordance with the law forthwith and ensure that the unauthorised possession is removed and vacant flats are delivered to those who have been found entitled to and eligible for allotment as per government policies”.
Senior counsel Jaspal Singh, appearing for the petitioners, said that as per the state government policy the riot victims who were in an unauthorised possession of government premises since Oct 15, 2010, would be allotted other accommodation and would not to dispossessed.
Jaspal Singh, who was assisted by counsel Satinder Gulati, told the court that his clients were victims of anti-Sikh riots and were forced to leave their homes and come to Punjab from different parts of the country to save their “lives, honour and property”.
He told the court that since then his clients were seeking a safe abode in Punjab and for long pleading to the state government for the same.
As the counsel for the Punjab government, Kuldip Singh sought a week’s time to take a decision, Justice Alam said: “We have decided. Your job is to do it (implement it).”
The court told the state government’s counsel: “You come back to us. Give us some positive, concrete action.”
Justice Alam directed the Punjab government to provide accommodation to the petitioners. They will not be evicted from the present dwellings.
Directing the state government to make arrangements for the petitioners, the court directed the listing of matter Sep 28.