Saturday, September 17, 2016

SC: Safeguards to be adhered by authorities while agitation

The Bench referred to the judgment in the In Re Destruction of public and private property versus State of Andhra Pradesh of 2009 in which the Supreme Court laid down the law on the safeguards to be put in place by the authorities before an agitation.

The ruling had said agitations should be comprehensively videographed, the police should constantly monitor and conduct reviews of the status of an agitation and commit the agitating leaders to a prior undertaking of peace. In case of violence, the police should file a report with the State government, which should hand it over to the High Court or even to the Supreme Court for suo motu cognisance.


A. Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, Sections 3 and 4 - Damages caused during Bandhs and agitations - There is no legislation to assess damages - In absence of legislation the following guidelines are to be adopted to assess damages - Power of Supreme Court extends to laying down guidelines - In the absence of legislation the following guidelines are to be adopted to assess damages:

(i) Wherever a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests or thereof, the High Court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation related thereto.

(ii) Where there is more than one State involved, such action may be taken by the Supreme Court.

(iii) In each case, the High Court or Supreme Court, as the case may be, appoint a sitting or retired High Court judge or a sitting or retired District judge as a Claims Commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.

(iv) An Assessor may be appointed to assist the Claims Commissioner.

(v) The Claims Commissioner and the Assessor may seek instructions from the High Court or Supreme Court as the case may be, to summon the existing video or other recordings from private and public sources to pinpoint the damage and establish nexus with the perpetrators of the damage.

(vi) The principles of absolute liability shall apply once the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established.

(vii) The liability will be borne by the actual perpetrators of the crime as well as organisers of the event giving rise to the liability - to be shared, as finally determined by the High Court or Supreme Court as the case may be.

(viii) Exemplary damages may be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount of the damages liable to be paid.

(ix) Damages shall be assessed for:

(a) damages to public property;

(b) damages to private property;

(c) damages causing injury or death to a person or persons;

(d) Cost of the actions by the authorities and police to take preventive and other actions.

(x) The Claims Commissioner will make a report to the High Court or Supreme Court which will determine the liability after hearing the parties.

The recommendations of Justice K.T. Thomas Committee and Mr. F.S. Nariman Committees above which have the approval of Supreme Court shall immediately became operative. They shall be operative as guidelines. 2002(2) RCR (Civil) 640, relied. [Para 7]

B. Constitution of India, Articles 32 and 142 - Supreme Court has power to issue guidelines on a particular subject when Act or Rules are silent - The Supreme Court can necessarily issue directions or orders on the said subject to fill the vacuum or void till the suitable law is enacted. 2002(2) RCR (Civil) 640 : 1997(4) RCR (Crl.) 187 : 1998(1) RCR (Crl.) 357, relied. [Paras 7 and 14]

(DOJ: 16-04-2009 (In Re Destruction of Public and Private Properties Vs. State of A.P. and others) (Arijit Pasayat, L.S.Panta and P.Sathasivam, JJ) (AIR 2009 SC 2266 : 2009 CriLJ 2807 : 2009(5) Scale 638 : 2009 (5) SCC 212) (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/169453366/) (http://lawfinderlive.com)


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