The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea seeking review of its August last year judgement which had set aside the Gujarat High Court's 2012 verdict asking the state government to grant compensation for restoration of religious places damaged during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
"The present review petition has been filed seeking review of judgment dated August 29, 2017...Having carefully gone through the review petition and the papers annexed therewith, we do not find any merit in the same," the bench said.
In its August last year's judgement, the apex court had accepted the scheme formulated by the state government to provide "ex-gratia assistance" of up to Rs 50,000 to all religious places, including mosques and temples, which were damaged or destroyed during the communal riots, on par with the relief granted for destruction of houses.
The court, while referring to the apex court verdicts and Article 27 of the Constitution (freedom of payment of taxes for promotion of a particular religion), had observed that substantial part of tax payers' money cannot be granted for repairing religious structures.
The Gujarat government, in its scheme, had proposed to pay ex-gratia assistance of Rs 50,000 for repair of damaged religious structures on the lines of its policy to pay for the houses damaged during riots and had put certain conditions like such temples or mosques should not be unauthorised ones.
The policy had also said that no ex-gratia assistance would be sanctioned to religious places, located in the middle of public road or at any unauthorised place, and there should be a prior FIR with regard to the damages caused.
The state government had challenged the high court verdict on various grounds including that the state, being a secular entity, cannot be asked to spend substantial amount of tax payers' money on repair of religious structures.
The high court, while dealing with a PIL filed by NGO Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat (IRCJ), had passed a slew of directions including an order asking the state government "to give compensation in favour of the persons in charge of all the religious places including those of worship, which were damaged during the communal riot of the year 2002 for restoration to the original position, as those existed on the date of destruction.
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