Delhi Police
Delhi Police

Anti-CAA Protests: Delhi Police writes to HC, seeks appointment of Claims Commissioner to assess damage to public property

The Delhi Police has sought fixing liabilities on persons responsible for the damage.

Bar & Bench

The Delhi Police has written a letter to the Delhi High Court seeking the appointment of a Claims Commissioner to assess the damage caused to public property during the Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (Anti-CAA) protest in the city.

In its letter, as per a report in The Hindu, the Delhi Police has informed that there were several instances of arson and riot in the city during the anti-CAA protests which resulted in damage to public property such as public transportation and loss to the government exchequer.

In tune with the UP Police, the Delhi Police has thus sought fixing liabilities on persons responsible for the damage.

As per the Report, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) is investigating 10 FIRs in cases related to violence and around 40 people have been arrested so far.

The letter was written to the High Court pursuant to a 2009 judgement of the Supreme Court in In Re:Destruction Of Public and Private Property vs State of Andhra Pradesh which stated that damage to public and private property must be recovered from perpetrators.

While suo-moto taking up the issue of large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs, hartals, the Supreme Court had issued the following guidelines:

1. The High Court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation.

2. Where there is more than one State involved, such action may be taken by the Supreme Court.

3. In each case, the High Court or Supreme Court may appoint a sitting/retired High Court judge or a sitting/retired District judge as a Claims Commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.

4. An Assessor may be appointed to assist the Claims Commissioner.

5. The Claims Commissioner and the Assessor may seek instructions from the Court concerned to summon any existing video or other recordings from private and public sources to pinpoint the damage and establish nexus with the perpetrators of the damage.

6. The principles of absolute liability shall apply once the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established.

7. The liability will be borne and shared by the actual perpetrators of the crime as well as organisers, as finally determined by the High Court or Supreme Court.

8. Exemplary damages may be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount of the damages liable to be paid.

9. Damages shall be assessed for damages to public property or private property, injury or death of people and the cost of preventive and other actions by the authorities.

10. Claims Commissioner will make a report to the High Court or Supreme Court which will determine the liability after hearing the parties.

On December 24, Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay had also urged the Delhi High Court to take suo motu cognizance of the loss to public property caused by the ongoing anti-CAA protests in the city.

Chief Chief Justice DN Patel had then kept Upadhyay's request hanging by stating,

"We will see...”

The High Court re-opens on January 6.

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