March 2018
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Bring law for damages for stir-related violence: SC
(NEW DELHI, Nov 28, 2017):Expressing concern over the loss of lives and public property during agitations, which have continued despite guidelines framed by it, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to bring a law to fix liability on people who could be prosecuted and made to pay compensation for indulging in and abetting mob violence.

A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit said a mechanism must be set up to decide such cases and suggested that district courts could be entrusted with the task of prosecuting people and fixing compensation to be paid by them for loss of lives and public property. "There is a need for a law to provide remedy and a forum to hear such cases. Loss of life and property cannot be allowed," it said.
The court said law enforcement authorities should also be made accountable for not taking preventive steps to control agitations. It said the authorities should video record agitations to catch those indulging in or provoking people into violent agitation.

Attorney general K K Venugopal told the court that the Centre was planning to amend the Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act to incorporate provisions to fix liability as per the SC guidelines and the government was yet to take a decision on how to compensate and through what mechanism. He said the Centre was committed to amend the law and requested the court that it should be left to the government to take a decision.

Recording the AG's statement, the court disposed of the petition filed by advocate Koshy Jacob seeking implementation of the SC's guidelines. "We do hope that a law will be brought in force within a reasonable time and we hope the suggestions of the court will be considered by the government and incorporated in the law," the bench said.

The SC had passed a slew of directions including putting in place a mechanism under which individuals could claim damages by filing writ petitions against private parties responsible for calling the bandh during which destruction of property took place. The court had also allowed high courts to take suo motu cognisance of such incidents and start proceedings against people responsible for violence.

It had said a sitting or retired HC judge or a sitting or retired district judge be appointed as a claims commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability. It had said damages should be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount of the damage.
It had also suggested that PDPP Act contain provisions to hold leaders of organisations guilty of abetment of the offence.

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