The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has upheld its single bench order directing the government to pay Rs 4 lakh to each victim family who lost kin in firing by Border Security Force in 1993 at Bijbehara town in South Kashmir.
Dismissing an appeal against the single bench order, a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Hasnaian Massodi directed the Registrar Judicial to release Rs 31 lakh in favour of the petitioners equally.
"AAG produced a cheque for a sum of Rs 31 lakhs drawn in favour of the Registrar Judicial of this Court. The same shall be deposited with the Registry and the Registry shall release the said amount in favour of the petitioners equally," the bench said.
The remaining amount of Rs 93 lakhs, the court said, shall be deposited by the appellants (government) with the Registrar Judicial of High Court within three months from today. The bench ordered the Registrar Judicial to release the said amount at the rate of Rs 3 lakhs to each writ petitioner after it will be deposited by the government.
In their plea while the petitioners sought directions to the respondents to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 50 lakh each to the petitioners, the Single Judge considered their claim in light of the judgments of the Supreme Court and ordered the State Government to pay a sum of Rs 4 lakhs to each petitioner for the loss of life of their close relatives/dependants.
The State Government had filed the appeal on the grounds that it had registered a case and the BSF personnel involved in the case were booked for prosecution and steps were taken for grant of sanction from the Central Government. If at all, it contended, the compensation as ordered by the Single Judge is to be paid, the Central Government is exclusively liable to pay the same as the killings had happened at the hands of the BSF personnel.
The State Government also contended that in the magisterial inquiry, "no element of the State Government was found involved".
"The Single Judge has gone into the qualification and the earning of each of the deceased persons and quantified the compensation payable at Rs 4 lakh to each petitioner apart from the ex-gratia relief of Rs 1 lakh already paid. There is no perversity in the order," the court said.
On October 22, 1993, as many as 32 persons were killed at Bijbehara in South Kashmir and several others got injured when after Friday prayers about 2000 to 3000 persons assembled near Jamia Masjid Bijbehara and staged a peaceful protest against the siege of Hazratbal Shrine. They raised slogans and went towards Highway and when they reached near Goriwan on the Highway, BSF personnel of 47th Bn who were on duty fired upon them.
Following the registration of case (FIR No.90/1993) at Police Station Bijbehara, police started investigations.
The State Government ordered magisterial inquiry and in the inquiry report adverse inference has been drawn against the BSF personnel and based on it, the State Government has also sought sanction to prosecute the BSF personnel.
The victim families were represented by advocate G Q Bhat.