Slamming the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to protect the fundamental rights of victims of the September 2013 communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, the Supreme Court Wednesday rejected a plea for a CBI/SIT probe into the riots.
Recounting the various steps taken by the state government, including the facts and figures supported by other material, a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: "We are of the view that there is no need to either constitute an SIT or entrust the investigation to the CBI at this juncture."
However, the court issued several directions to the state government, saying it was "conscious of the fact that more effective and stringent measures are to be taken by the state administration".
The court declined a plea for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team while addressing the question: "At this juncture, viz., after a period of six months, whether an agency other than the state is to be directed to investigate and take appropriate steps."
Holding that no amount of monetary compensation could be adequate nor could it be of any respite for the victims, Chief Justice Sathasivam said: "... as the state has failed in protecting such serious violation of fundamental rights, the state is duty bound to provide compensation, which may help in victims' rehabilitation."
Recounting the chain of incidents that led to the communal flare-up, the court said: "Had the central and state intelligence agencies smelt these problems in advance and alerted the district administration, the unfortunate incidents could have been prevented."
"Thus, we prima facie hold the state government responsible for being negligent at the initial stage in not anticipating the communal violence and for taking necessary steps for its prevention," the court said.
Referring to the thousands of people who has assembled at a particular place in order to take revenge or retaliate, the court said: "It is expected of the state intelligence agencies to apprise the state government and the district administration in particular to prevent such communal violence."
The court reiterated that it was the responsibility of the state administration in association with the intelligence agencies of both the state and the centre to prevent communal violence in any part of the state.
The court made it clear that the "officers responsible for maintaining law and order, if found negligent, should be brought under the ambit of law irrespective of their status."
In a reference where initially relief was provided only to victims from a particular community, the court said: "It is important that the relief, as enumerated above, not only be provided to all needy families irrespective of their religion but it should also be provided to only genuinely affected families."
The court also issued several directions for victims' compensation in rape cases.