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Restore religious places damaged during riots, Gujarat ordered

Monday July 30, 2012 08:03:08 PM, IANS

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No aid to 2002 riots-damaged religious places: Gujarat government

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday asked the Gujarat government if it was contemplating to fund repairs of religious places damaged in the 2002 riots and declined to suspend a high court order to the state to pay for their restoration.

"We are asking whether the state is contemplating any scheme for the repair of religious places damaged during the 2002 riots," said the apex court bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra.

The court did not stay the portion of the Gujarat High Court observation which blamed "inaction or inadequate action" for the damage to the religious places.

The apex court questioned the state government on restoration of damaged shrines while referring to its earlier direction to the Odisha government on formulating a scheme for the repair and restoration of churches damaged in the 2008 riots in Kandhamal district.

The court said that the state government could formulate a scheme on the lines of what the Odisha government framed for the restoration of churches.

As Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta, representing Gujarat, said the direction to Odisha was for formulating a policy and not to pay for the actual damages, Senior counsel Harish Salve observed: "Policy was not for adorning the text book but to pay damages based on that policy."

Mehta told the court that he needed time to take instructions from the state government on the court's poser.

He told the court that his difficulty was that the high court's observation "inaction and inadequate action" was being used by people to file petitions seeking hearing by the inquiry commission.

"Based on the high court orders, petitions are being filed before the commission to hear them," Mehta told the court.

Salve, appearing for a Gujarat-based religious organisation, told the court that the order and directions of the high court could be stayed but not the observations.

"Observations are not stayed. Orders are stayed," Salve told the court, adding that if the high court order was not stayed for another 15 days the heavens would not fall.

Mehta said that the high court could not exercise power under article 226 of the constitution to decide the breach of non-fundamental rights.

He said that it was a well settled point that a high court exercised its jurisdiction under article 226 only if there was a breach of fundamental rights.

The court would next hear the case Aug 14.



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