Observing that the Maharashtra government cannot neglect the damage caused to persons during the August 2012 Azad Maidan riots, the Bombay High Court on Thursday sought to know if an amount has been fixed towards damage caused to public property as well as persons.
A division bench of Justices NH Patil and Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a public interest litigation filed by one Sanket Satope seeking direction to the government to arrive at an amount and recover it from organisers of the rally at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai during which the riot took place.
Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai informed the court that the collector’s office has arrived at an amount of Rs. 2.75 crores as damages to public property. “The collector’s office is conducting an inquiry against over 70 accused and 964 witnesses,” she said.
The court, however, observed that while the collector has estimated the cost of damage caused to public property, the loss caused due to personal injuries have not been considered. “According to the police report, 76 police officials, two fire brigade officials and four media persons suffered injuries during the riots. Have you (collector’s office) assessed the cost of this damage? Injuries to persons have been neglected,” Justice Patil said.
The bench observed that under section 51(3) of the Maharashtra Police Act, a district magistrate is duty bound to independently inquire into the damage caused to both property and persons. “Has this been done? Has a magistrate inquired into this and arrived at an amount? What steps has the state government taken to recover this amount?” the court asked.
The bench has directed the prosecutor to take instructions on this and posted the petition for hearing after two weeks.
A total of 62 persons were arrested by the city crime branch for their alleged role in the riots at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai on August 11, 2012.
Two youths were killed and 52, including 44 policemen, injured on August 11 when a rally called to protest alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar turned violent. The protesters went on a rampage, attacking police, media persons and vehicles.