AP to challenge order on aid to arrested youths

State govt to file review petition in HC high court

The Andhra Pradesh government will challenge the high court  order which set aside the compensation paid to Muslim youth wrongly arrested in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blasts case.

The state government will file a review petition in the high court and, if necessary,  approach the Supreme Court. The government in January last year paid Rs 3 lakh each to 20 people and Rs 20,000 each to 50 people.

In a landmark verdict, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday set aside the compensation awarded to 70 Muslim youths on the grounds of wrongly tagging them as “terror suspects” and confining them for over an year.

On a PIL, a division bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice Kalyan Jyothi Sengupta struck down the government order and directed it to recover the compensation  already paid.

It ruled that mere acquittal or discharge from a criminal case cannot be basis for payment of such compensation. The petitioner held that the compensation amounted to “vote bank politics” by the Congress government and that there was no basis for giving such compensation.

"If so, why not give compensation to men, women and children wounded in the blasts, he said. This is the first instance where a government has paid compensation to people wrongly arrested and tortured on a charge of terrorism.

The Muslim youths were acquitted by the court as subsequent investigations by the CBI and the National Investigation Agency revealed that right-wing Hindu groups were involved in the blast.

The bench said the government has to maintain restraint while taking such decisions. The bench ruled that the government had no authority or jurisdiction for payment of such compensation.

The bench pointed out that instead of helping the poor, it was not correct for the government to pay compensation without any basis under the law.

The court cited the large number of injured in the subsequent Dilsukhnagar blasts and suggested that the government should instead grant permanent relief to the injured as well.

A fact-finding committee of the state minority commission found that the police kept the youths in illegal confinement and tortured them. Acting on the recommendation of the National Minorities Commission, the state government paid compensation to the Muslim youths.

The cheques were handed over by state Minorities Welfare Minister Mohammad Ahamadullah at a function held on January 6 last year.

Senior Congress leader and former state minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir said, “Compensation should be paid in all such cases across the country irrespective of the victim’s religion.”

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