The Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the collector, Thane, to disburse compensation of Rs3 lakh, announced by the central government, to the blast victims within four weeks.
A division bench of justices Abhay Oka and AS Chandurkar was hearing bunch public interest litigations (PILs) seeking disbursal as well as enhancement of the compensation.
The judges have directed that the amount be disbursed to the victims with interest from October 18, 2011, the date on which it was announced.
According to a PIL filed by Mumbai resident Prakash Seth, through his advocate Rahul Kadam, four people in Thane and Ulhasnagar haven't received the compensation till date — Himmatbhai Gadia, Baburam Das and Bhupatbhai Navadia of Thane and Lalchand Ahuja of Ulhasnagar. And there are others as well, added Kadam.
The government claimed the amount (Rs3 lakh) was not disbursed by the collector as he does not have the power to disburse more than Rs1.5 lakh. However, Kadam argued that the central government had made the necessary amendment to the 'central scheme for assistance to civilian victims/family of victims of terrorist/communal and Naxal violence' and given the collector powers to disburse Rs3 lakh.
During the last hearing, HC had questioned whether Rs3 lakh compensation was enough. The judges had even expressed dissatisfaction with the system of awarding a standard compensation amount to the families of those killed in the blasts.
Another PIL by advocate Rajeshwar Panchal has sought that a just and fair amount should be given as compensation to the families of those killed. He contended that the income of the deceased, the social status of his/her family and the number of dependents should be taken into account while deciding the compensation. The advocate pointed out that the Motor Vehicles Act and the Workmen's Compensation Act laid down a formula to work out such a compensation.
The judges suggested to the government to come up with a workable policy to determine the quantum of compensation by making amendments to these Acts. Additional solicitor general Anil Singh then informed the HC that they will have to put up the amendments before the cabinet.
To this, justice Oka remarked: "You (government) are not giving them (victims or their families) anything extra. It is their constitutional right."
The judges had even appointed senior advocate SR Nargolkar as amicus curie (friend of court) to assist in the matter.
The Centre had issued a circular announcing an ex-gratia payment of Rs4 lakh to the families of those killed in the blasts. Of the Rs4 lakh, Rs3 lakh would be given by the Centre, and the rest by the respective state governments.