NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday censured the Akhilesh Yadav government for favouring the Muslim community in relief and rehabilitation following the Muzaffarnagar riotsin August and forced it to withdraw the “biased” notification.
Appearing for a section of Jat community residing in riot-hit UP districts, advocate M L Sharma drew the court’s attention to a UP government notification promising Rs 5 lakh to relocate Muslim families living in relief camps who have refused to return to their villages.
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi took serious exception to the notification and said, “In your relief operations, if your notification favours one community, then it is bound to backfire. How can relief and rehabilitation measures be denied on the ground of religion?”
Senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan immediately assured the court that no one would be discriminated and that a corrigendum to the notification would soon be issued. “The team which visited the relief camps thought only Muslims wanted relocation. Now, it will be extended to all, whoever wants to relocate,” he said.
However, the bench, after brief deliberation, asked for the notification to be withdrawn. “We feel you have to recall this notification and issue a fresh one to include all riot-affected families, whosoever is eligible irrespective of their religious or community identity,” the judges said.
Dhavan instantly gave the undertaking to the court that the state would withdraw the ‘faulty’ notification and issue it afresh as soon as possible, extending the relocation grant of Rs 5 lakh to riot victims without discrimination.
Moments after the state government wriggled out of an embarrassing accusation of offering relief benefits to one community, the court issued notice on a writ petition filed by one Ravindra Kumar of Malikpur Majra Kawal village in Muzaffarngar district, who alleged the police investigation into the riots was biased.
Ravindra Kumar’s son and nephew were murdered on August 27, an incident which triggered the riots. His counsel, senior advocate Pinky Anand, claimed the ruling party in UP “tried to unduly influence” police when they arrested the accused. When the police officials refused to oblige the political bosses, they were transferred out of the district on the same day, she alleged.
The petitioner also alleged that the investigating officer had drafted an affidavit on the murder case and asked him to file his affidavit on the same lines. Anand said this was nothing but trying to tutor the complainant in a serious case to follow the line dictated by the police.
The bench headed by Justice Sathasivam termed this “a serious issue” and asked the UP government to look into it immediately.