New Delhi: Taking a cue from his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Adityanath, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has decided to make rioters pay for the damages caused to private and public property during last week’s violence in Bengaluru.
The state home minister Basavaraj Bommai announced the BJP government’s decision to recover losses from those who are responsible for the damages. However, unlike the Adityanath government, which passed an ordinance to penalise rioters, the BJP government in Karnataka has invoked a 2009 Supreme Court order that permits a high court to constitute machinery to investigate losses and award compensation.
“We have come to a decision as per the Supreme Court order,” Bommai said. The 2009 order had framed guidelines for a high court to probe damages in riots and award compensation while acknowledging the absence of state legislations to do the same.
BJP leaders in the state had been advocating such a step over the last few months. When violence broke out in Mangaluru during protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act last year, state revenue minister R. Ashoka spoke about promulgating an ordinance on the lines of the Uttar Pradesh government to enable the Karnataka government to recover losses to property during violence.
However, legal experts feel that the government was being selective in the Bengaluru riots case, while ignoring other such incidents of violence.
“Recovering the cost of damage will be difficult without a proper mechanism in place. Appropriate remedy is to set up a recovery tribunal,” former advocate general of Karnataka, Ashok Haranahalli, was quoted as having said by The Economic Times.
He also said that the SC had only issued broad guidelines and many aspects like identifying offenders, executing a plan to recover losses, and penalties for non-compliance remains unclear. He also said that in the absence of proper legislation, the high court will have to oversee recoveries every time there is an incident of violence.
In Uttar Pradesh, a similar effort had resulted in the state government unduly moving to recover damages from many anti-CAA protesters even though their role in the violence had not been established. The Adityanath government put up hoardings with the names, photographs, and addresses of those it believed had a role in the violence during anti-CAA protests.
The move was challenged at the Supreme Court later. Human rights activists slammed the state government’s method to name and shame legitimate dissenters, and alleged that the hoardings could put the lives of many people in danger.