Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today issued notice to the Maharashtra government on a PIL seeking punitive action against Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar and other participants of a statewide bandh called in the aftermath of the Bhima Koregaon violence in January.
During the hearing, a bench of justices Shantanu Kemkar and M S Karnik also issued notice to Ambedkar. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO also sought that the state government and those who participated in the bandh be held liable for the loss or damages caused to public and private property.
The plea sought that the traders, whose properties were damaged in the sporadic incidents of violence across the state during the bandh on January 3 or those who lost their day’s earnings due to the bandh, be given compensation. The high court bench directed the state government and Ambedkar to file their affidavits within four weeks. However, state’s counsel advocate Hiten Venegaonkar opposed the PIL saying the state had already taken appropriate action against those involved in the bandh.
He also submitted that there was no statutory provision that entitles the traders or others to seek compensation in the case. He, however, added that if the high court deemed this a case fit for compensation, then it could order for the same under relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Case (CrPC).
“In such a case, however, the court will also have to direct someone to quantify the total loss or damage to property caused in the incident,” Venegaonkar said. He also submitted that the police had already filed 74 FIRs in the case, and that around 400 people had been booked across the state for various incidents related to the bandh as well as the main incident of the violence during the bicentenary celebrations of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon on January 1.
Venegaonkar also submitted that while Ambedkar might have given the call for the statewide bandh, he had not been arrested since he was not present at any of the spots, where incidents of violence took place.