its policy clear on the issue of granting aid to religious
structures damaged in the 2002 riots, the Gujarat government
Monday told the state high court that it will not provide any
financial aid to them.
The government pleader, P.K. Jani conveyed this to the first bench
comprising Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil
Kureshi. He submitted that the subject was considered at the
highest level and the government has decided to continue with its
earlier decision not to grant aid as compensation to any religious
institution damaged in the riots.
The government said in an affidavit that it was the policy of the
government not to compensate damaged religious institutions. It
also said that it neither provided any compensation for damages to
the religious structures, which were damaged or destroyed in the
2001 earthquake, nor in case of the terror attack on the
The court then questioned counsel to state whether or not there
was any way to provide assistance by funding Wakf Boards, which
may be able to provide assistance to such institutions from those
funds. Counsel was, however, unable to answer the court's query.
On the other hand, counsel for the petitioner, who sought the
court to direct the state government to compensate for the damage
caused to religious structures in the riots, argued that the state
failed to meet with its statutory obligation.
He argued that the state has constitutional obligation to protect
the fundamental rights and to protect the religious identity. He
argued that in any riots, the first attack would be on the
religious identity such as religious structures.
He said if at all it was believed that the riots were beyond the
control of the state government, then also it was the state's duty
to compensate the damages caused. If it failed to do so, it would
be violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution,
After hearing the parties, the bench said that it was a high time
for it to decide the matter either way as the issue was not
addressed even after nearly eight years of the incident. The court
has asked the parties to make written submissions and has now
posted the matter for final hearing March 21.