Delhi police to recover damages during CAA protest

Last Updated 31 December 2019, 15:57 IST

After Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Railways, Delhi Police too have decided to recover the damages caused to public and private properties here by the protesters during the agitation against Citizenship Amendment Act.

The police have written to Delhi High Court to appoint claims commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate the liability as per the Supreme Court's judgement in Destruction of Public and Private Property vs State of Andhra Pradesh and others.

“There have been several instances of arson and riots in the national capital during the recent protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. During these anti CAA/NRC protests, there has been massive and extensive damage of public and private property, including public transportation, causing huge loss to government exchequer,” the letter sent to the High Court stated.

It further pointed out 10 criminal cases have been registered in these crimes and several persons arrested.

According to the Supreme Court's judgement delivered on April 16, 2009, wherever a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests or thereof, the high court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation. It further said that where there is more than one state involved, such action may be taken by the Supreme Court.

Following loss to properties as witnessed during the recent agitation, the Uttar Pradesh government initiated the move to identify the perpetrators of violence and issued them notices.

In Bulandshahr, members of the Muslim community on their own handed over a cheque of Rs 6.27 lakh to the district administration. The Karnataka government as well as Railways also decided to recover the damages.

The Supreme Court guidelines stated in each case, the high court may appoint a sitting or retired high court judge or a sitting or retired district judge as claims commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.

For this purpose, the claims commissioner may seek existing video or other recordings from public and private persons to pinpoint the damages and establish the nexus with the perpetrators of the damages.

It said that the principle of absolute liability would apply once the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established.

The liability would be borne by the actual perpetrators as well as the organiser of the event.

It further stated exemplary damages may be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount liable to be paid. The damages could be assessed for loss to public and private properties and injury to a person or death of people.

The 2009 judgement was followed in the case of 'Kodungallur Film Society vs Union Of India' by the Supreme Court in another verdict delivered on October 1, 2018.

(Published 31 December 2019, 15:08 IST)

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