The Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered the Punjab government to issue a fresh notification within 10 days to empower justice VK Bali (retd) claims commission to fix liability of culprits for destruction of public and private property in May 2009 Punjab clashes following an attack on Sant Ramanand in Vienna, Austria.
The division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Arun Palli issued directions while hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO General Samaj Manch highlighting destruction of public and private property in the clashes in Jalandhar and other districts.
However, the Punjab government's counsel informed the court that the prevention of destruction of public property bill would be passed in February.
The high court in its orders on May 29, 2012, had made it clear that liability of the compensation amount would be borne by the actual perpetrators of the crime as well as organisers of the event. The court had ordered that exemplary damages might be awarded to the extent not greater than twice the amount of the actual damage to the affected parties.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Hitesh Kaplish informed the court that the state government had failed to issue proper notification as the claims commission did not have the powers to fix the liability of the perpetrators of crime responsible for property destruction, as per court orders.
Following the high court's directions, the Punjab government had on June 11, 2012, appointed former chief justice of the Kerala high court VK Bali as head of the claims commission. Former Punjab district and sessions judge CR Goel was appointed as accessor-cum-registrar to estimate the damages due to the incidents of violence from May 24 to 26, 2009.
The case has now been posted for hearing on March 3.
Sant Ramanand, preacher of Guru Ravi Dass Gurdwara, Ballan village, situated on the Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway, was injured in an attack in a Vienna gurdwara during a congregation on May 24, 2009 after which he had succumbed to his injuries. As the word spread, Sant's followers on May 24 and 25 set ablaze around 170 vehicles. Eighteen bogies of the Madurai Express were also set afire at the Jalandhar railway station. The total damage during the agitation was estimated to be around Rs 8 crore.