The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Gujarat government to file a comprehensive affidavit indicating how many religious sites were damaged and destroyed during the 2002 riots in the State.
A Bench comprising Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra also asked Tushar Mehta, Additional Advocate General of the State, and Hemantika Wahi, standing counsel for the State of Gujarat, to quantify the amount needed for building and repairing the sites.
These directions were issued on an appeal filed by the Gujarat government challenging an order of the High Court, which had directed it to pay compensation for the damage and destruction of the sites.
As soon as the hearing commenced, counsel for the State of Gujarat contended that the State exchequer could not be used for building and repairing the damaged religious sites.
The Bench, however, said it would look into the issue of whether public funds could be used for restoring the damaged sites.
“You compensate if a house is washed away in a flood or if it is damaged in an earthquake. Then why not in the case of a religious place,” the Bench asked.
At this stage, the Bench directed the State government to file a comprehensive affidavit incorporating the details of the religious structures damaged and destroyed during the 2002 riots and posted the matter to July 30 for further hearing.
On February 8, the State government was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court for “inaction and negligence” on its part during the 2002 post-Godhra riots that led to large-scale damage or destruction of religious structures.
A High Court division bench of Acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had ordered compensation for more than 500 places of worship in the State on a plea by the Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCG), an NGO.