Ready to review policy on compensation: J&K to SC

SC

With the Supreme Court taking exception to "discrimination" between compensation for people belonging to the state and those from outside, the Jammu and Kashmir government has agreed to review its ex-gratia policy for victims of riots, militancy and other incidents.

"The policy...is being reviewed by the state government with the objective of providing an updated and comprehensive policy," a state government affidavit said. The government said there were endeavours to review the policy as soon as possible.

The SC bench headed by the Chief Justice had sought an explanation from the state over the ex-gratia policy.

Hearing a PIL on the Ramban firing and Kishtwar riots, the court asked J&K to justify its order awarding more compensation to permanent residents of the state. It will take up the state's response on Monday.

In its affidavit, J&K had justified its stand and invoked the Instrument of Accession and history. It asserted that special status granted by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution gave the state powers to draw up separate laws for original inhabitants of J&K. It said the state was entitled to confer special privileges on permanent residents in certain matters, including aid. "Such measures cannot be void on the ground that grant of special privileges is inconsistent with or takes away rights conferred on other citizens of India," it had said.

"The government of J&K is authorized to undertake measures specifically for welfare of permanent residents," it stated.

The government said ex-gratia was not a legally enforceable right and hence parity could not be claimed.

The state has relented and said it would take a relook at compensation.

Ramban firing: 'People protested after mosque announcement'

The J&K government informed the Supreme Court that only after announcements from mosques from loudspeakers did people protest leading to Ramban firing in which four people were killed by the BSF. People agitated over desecration of the holy Quran, allegedly by BSF personnel. The affidavit stated that almost 1,800 people attacked the BSF. As the situation got out of control even after teargas shells were fired, BSF opened fire. A special investigation team is probing the incident. Six persons have been arrested so far.

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