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SC Forms Panel to Investigate Data on 108 Missing Persons

The Supreme Court on Friday set up a committee to investigate the records of 108 people who went missing during the 1992-93 Mumbai riots and said the Maharashtra government will do everything possible to help their relatives or legal heirs recover. to trace.

The highest court noted that violence witnessed by Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993 adversely affected the right of residents of the affected areas to lead “dignified and meaningful lives” and that if civilians are forced to live in an atmosphere of communal tension, it affects their right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.

A bank headed by Justice SK Kaul said that the state will pay compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the legal heirs of the missing persons, hereinafter hereinafter, with interest at 9 percent per annum from January 22, 1999 until the actual payment.

“The commission composed of the secretary of MSLSA (Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority) and the other two government officials appointed under this order will oversee the efforts of the state government to track down other victims who were entitled to compensation in terms of the annex to the government’s first resolution, but no compensation was paid to them,” said the bank, which also consisted of Judges AS Oka and Vikram Nath.

It noted that the state government had failed to maintain law and order and protect people’s rights guaranteed by Article 21.

The highest court ruled on a plea asking for instructions including for the state to accept and act on the findings of the Sri Krishna Commission of Inquiry, as well as to pay compensation to people identified as missing.

It noted that in December 1992 and January 1993, about 900 people were killed, 168 people were reported missing and about 2,036 people were injured in the violence, followed by 257 deaths as a result of serial bomb explosions on March 12, 1993. and 1,400 people were injured.

The bank said a March 2020 affidavit filed by the Home Secretary’s chief secretary states that 900 people have been killed in riots and that 168 people have been reported missing and that compensation has been paid to the legal authorities. heirs of these deceased and relatives of 60 missing persons.

It noted that, albeit belatedly, a government resolution of 8 July 1993 decided to provide financial assistance to people affected by the December 1992 and January 1993 riots and the Mumbai serial bombings.

It said that a government resolution of 22 July 1998 had been issued stipulating that the legal heirs of the missing persons would be paid compensation of Rs 2 lakh and that the eligibility criteria and the procedure for disbursement had also been established.

The highest court said relatives of only 60 missing people have received compensation, with no compensation being paid to the relatives of the remaining 108 missing people because they or their home addresses were not found.

“We propose to set up a commission headed by the secretary of the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority to investigate the data related to the remaining 108 missing persons,” the bank said in its 38-page verdict.

As for the issue raised regarding measures against errant police officers, it noted that in terms of the commission’s recommendations, FIRs were filed against nine police officers and later two of them were fired while seven were acquitted.

It said the state government has not stated reasons not to question the acquittal.

“The state should have been vigilant and proactive in these cases. Now it is too late to order the state to investigate whether the acquittal is worth challenging,” the bank noted.

On the issue of the disciplinary investigation launched against several police officers, it said that given the long lapse of time, it would be inappropriate to address the issue of the validity of orders issued by disciplinary authorities and the appropriateness of imposed to punish.

“In any event, in a subpoena in the form of a public interest lawsuit, a court should not normally interfere in disciplinary proceedings,” the bank said.

The highest court said the affidavit reveals details of the fate of 253 riot-related criminal cases and it also reveals that one case is pending in the trial court.

“We propose to let the trial court decide on the pending case at the earliest. Ninety-seven cases are in dormant files. The reason must be that either the suspects in there are untraceable or in hiding,” it said.

The court said that, on the administrative side, the Supreme Court should issue appropriate instructions to the relevant courts in which these cases are pending.

It said the Supreme Court must ensure that the relevant courts take appropriate steps to track down the accused and that the state will have to set up a special cell to track them down.

The bank said the commission had made several suggestions to strengthen and improve the police force and that the recommendations were very broad.

It noted that the government’s note states that most of these recommendations have been accepted by the state.

“But what remains is the execution part. The state government cannot ignore the recommendations of the commission for the improvement and modernization of the police and the recommendations will continue to guide the state government,” it said.

The bank said the state will swiftly implement all recommendations made by the commission on the issue of police reforms adopted by the state.

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