- Apprentice Lawyer
- Legal Jobs
In the background of the damage to property caused during the anti-CAA protests held in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government recently passed the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Private and Public Property Ordinance, 2020.
Significantly, the Ordinance provides that once a Claims Tribunal passes an order for recovery of damages, the name, address and photograph of the person found responsible shall be published. Section 19(2) of the Ordinance states:
"As soon as the order of recovery for damage is passed the property of the respondent to be attached and authorities shall be directed to publish the name address along with photograph with a warning for public at large not to purchase property attached."
Section 19(2) of the Ordinance
The Ordinance also provides that such order passed by the Claims Tribunal would be final, and that no appeal would lie against the decision before any court.
In cases of damage to public property, the compensation process will be set in motion by the District Magistrate, Commissioner of Police or Head of office, who, after going through the report of the circle officer of police based on the FIR, is required to take immediate steps to file a petition for compensation before the Claims Tribunal. This petition is required to be filed within three months of the damage to public property being caused.
Owners of private property damaged in the wake of protests can file compensation claims after getting a report from the concerned Station House Officer.
The Claims Tribunal that will decide these petitions is to be headed by a retired district judge, and must also comprise an officer with rank of Additional Commissioner.
This tribunal shall have all the powers of a civil court for taking evidence on oath, enforcing attendance of witnesses, and for production of documents and material objects.
The Ordinance also envisions the appointment of a Claims Commissioner to estimate damages and investigate liability, and an Assessor in every district to assist the Claims Commissioner. The Assessor is required to be "technically qualified" to assess such damage.
The Claims Commissioner and the Assessor may seek instructions from the Claims Tribunal to summon the existing video or other recordings from private and public sources to pinpoint the damage and establish nexus with the perpetrators of the damage.
Section 12 highlights how parties can be added as respondents in claims for compensation.
The Head of office or owner of property (in cases of damage to public and private property respectively) can join as respondents those who “within his knowledge” had exhorted, instigated or committed such acts, and persons who are mentioned in the police report. The provision further states:
“The names and designation of the person who exhorted or perpetrated the acts leading in the destruction or damages, who sponsored, called for or exhorted the agitation."
The Claims Tribunal has the power to proceed ex parte in case persons fail to appear before it. Section 13 further states that for parties who do not appear,
“…tribunal shall attach the property and direct the authorities to publish the name, address along with photograph with a warning for public at large, not to purchase the property of the respondent.”
The tribunal has an outer limit of one year to decide claim petitions.
Section 19 states that tribunals may award exemplary damages not exceeding double of the amount of compensation to be paid. Further, compensation shall not be less than the market value of the property damaged.
The Allahabad High Court recently ordered the Uttar Pradesh police to remove hoardings displaying photographs of those accused of destroying public property amidst anti-CAA protests held in the state last December.
The Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha had taken up the matter suo motu on a Sunday morning, when the Court pulled up the state authorities for putting up the hoardings.
Terming the state's move to publish the details of persons who allegedly caused damage to property as a colourable exercise of power, the Bench had gone on to hold,
"There are certain provisions empowering the investigating agencies or other Executives to take picture of accused for the purpose of their identification and record but that too is not open for publication. The only time these photographs be published is to have assistance in the apprehension of a fugitive from justice."
[Read the Ordinance]