NEW DELHI — IMPAR (Indian Muslims for Progress and Reforms) has moved the Supreme Court through a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking uniformity in compensation for victims of hate crimes irrespective of victim’s religious identity.
The PIL has made the Union of India and all the 37 states and union territories respondents.
It has highlighted the “whimsical, discriminatory and arbitrary approach adopted by state governments in the grant of ex-gratia compensation to the victims of hate crime/mob lynching.”
It has referred to “the religion-based discriminatory compensation provided to the victims of mob lynching /hate crimes by the governments of Rajasthan and Karnataka.”
The petition says that the discriminatory approach adopted by state governments is an extreme example of prejudices and indifferent attitude adopted by the governments against a class of citizens on the ground of their religion alone.
The PIL submitted that such an action by the governments was not only a violation of the equality before the law under Article 14 of the Constitution but also a breach of Article 15 which mandates non-discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
It has also flagged the provision of a meagre compensation amount to the victims of hate crime/mob lynching in compensation policies implemented by various state governments.
The PIL says that the approach of the state governments in the grant of ex-gratia compensation to the victims of heinous crimes/hate crimes/lynching shows glaring discrepancies, which in most cases depend on extraneous factors like media coverage, political imperatives and the victim’s religious identity.
The PIL points out that the discrimination in the grant of compensation to the victims of
hate crimes/mob lynching has significantly impacted the rule of law as it undermined the fundamental principles of equality before law.
It mentions the trend of awarding compensation to the victims of hate crimes/ mob lynching based on the religious affiliation of victims. It says that in some cases, where the victims belong to religious denomination of the majority community, huge compensation are awarded for their losses, while in other cases where the victim belongs to the minority community, the compensation is woefully inadequate.
The PIL refers to the murder of Kanhaiyalal of Udaipur, Rajasthan, who was murdered on June 29, 2022 in an alleged hate crime and the burning alive case of Junaid and Nasir on February 17, 2023. The discrimination in their compensation is glaring. Kanhaiyalal’s family was handed over a cheque of Rs. 51 lakhs and his two sons were given government job. In the case of Junaid and Nasir, their families were promised compensation of Rs. 5 lakh only.
On July 28, 2018, the Rajasthan Government announced a meagre amount of Rs. 1.25 lakh compensation to the family of Rakbar Khan who was lynched on the suspicion of smuggling two cows.
In the state of Karnataka, one Parveen was killed in hate crime/ communal clash on July 31, 2022. His family was promised a compensation of Rs. 25 lakhs. However, no compensation was granted by the state government to family members of the deceased Masood and Fazil, who were brutally killed in a hate crime/communal incident.
On June 29, 2017, one Alimuddin Ansari was killed by cow vigilantes in Latehar district of
Jharkhand. The family members/dependents were not properly compensated for which they were forced to approach High Court by way of writ for grant of compensation. The PIL alleged that there was a complete lack of compassion on the part of the state government.
The PIL complains about the current victim compensation policies implemented by various state governments that provide only a meagre amount which is not just and fair. As per the Bihar Lynching and Mob Violence Victim Compensation Scheme, 2018, victims of mob lynching will be granted compensation to the tune of Rs. 3 Lakh.
The PIL has details of other states’ policies. The Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021 passed by Jharkhand Assembly in which the provision for compensation to the victims of mob lynching was made, has not received assent by the Governor.
As per Haryana Victim Compensation Schemes, 2020, the minimum amount of compensation to be paid to the victims is Rs. 2 Lakh, though no specific provision has been made for grant of compensation to the victims of hate crime/mob lynching.
According to the Tripura Lynching/Mob Violence Victim Compensation Schemes, 2018, on account of death, the victim’s family is entitled to receive minimum compensation to the tune of Rs. 4 Lakh.
The PIL has submitted that the Supreme Court may call for the reports from respondent states with regard to the incident of hate crime/ mob lynching and the amount of compensation paid to their families.
The PIL submitted that lynching has claimed hundreds of lives in Maharashtra, Tripura, Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal also.
The PIL has prayed for a writ or order or direction to state governments and Union Territories to bring uniformity in the grant of compensation to the victims of hate crimes/lynching/mob lynching as per the direction of the Supreme Court in Tehseen Poonawala Vs. Union of India case of 2018. The petition pointed out that the present practice of granting ex gratia amounts by various state governments is discriminatory and contrary to the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.