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Assam movement: Gauhati High Court directs state to pay compensation to daughter of man killed by police

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The state government of Gauhati has been directed by the Gauhati High Court to pay a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs to the daughter of a man who was killed by the police when he was participating in the Assam movement on 30.11.1981.

A single judge bench of Justice Devashis Baruah disposed of a Petition seeking a direction upon the concerned Respondent Authorities for payment of the ex-gratia compensation of Rs.5 lakhs under the Government of Assam to the martyrs family.

The Petitioner is the daughter of Late Loknath Saikia who was killed by the police when he was participating in the Assam movement on 30.11.1981. The Petitioner on coming to learn about the said ex-gratia compensation scheme of the Government of Assam applied for the said grant of Rs. 5 lakhs but the same was refused on the ground that the said amount have been already disbursed to the Respondent No. 4 (brother of Petitioner’s father) . It is under such circumstances that the instant petition has been filed. The Petitioner in the said petition have enclosed the certificate issued by Additional Deputy Magistrate, Nagaon dated 13.08.2017 issued in pursuance to Rule 2(a) of the Assam Public Service (Preferential Appointment) Rules, 1999 certifying that her father was killed in connection with the participation in the Assam movement on the problems of foreigners .

Pursuant to the filing of the petition, the Respondent No. 4 had filed an affidavit-in-opposition, wherein 6 he had duly admitted that he had received the said amount of Rs. 5 lakhs and further that he never made any claim for the said amount. It was further mentioned by the Respondent No. 4 in his affidavit that the Petitioner’s mother got married with another person immediately after the demise of the brother of the Respondent No.4 and the Petitioner also went with her mother before the grant of the additional exgratia amount of Rs. 5 lakhs by the authority. It was also mentioned in the said affidavit that out of the amount of Rs. 5 lakhs so received in the month of December, 2016, the Respondent No. 4 constructed a monument in memory of his brother in the courtyard of the Respondent’s house by spending an amount of Rs. 2 lakhs and further donated an amount of Rs. 1,50,000/- for the development of Temple on 01.02.2017. Further to that, an amount of Rs.10,000/- was donated for development of a temple in the month of February, 2017.

The Petitioner filed an affidavit-in-reply to the affidavit-n-opposition denying the contents of the said affidavit-in-opposition and stating inter alia that the amount so paid and/or donated is nothing but absurd and without the knowledge of the Petitioner.

The Bench noted that the affidavit-in-opposition was filed by the Respondent No. 1 (State Government) through the Deputy Secretary to the Government of Assam, Implementation of Assam Accord Department. In the said affidavit-inopposition, it was mentioned that the payment was made to the Respondent No. 4 on the basis of a report dated 25.11.2016 received from the Respondent No. 2 (Deputy Commissioner, Nagaon) . It was further mentioned that the payment was made to the Respondent No. 4 through the RTGS but later on 27.12.2016, a Communication was received from the Respondent No. 2 stating the name of the Petitioner as the next of the kin of Late Loknath Saikia. It was further stated that since the amount of exgratia was already paid to the Respondent No. 4, the question of payment to another beneficiary did not arise.

The Court also finds in a Communication dated 25.11.2016 issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Nagaon whereby the list of NOKs of the martyrs of Assam falling under Nagaon District was enclosed. The list upon being perused reveals that against the martyr , the name of the Respondent No. 4 was shown alongwith his address, mobile number and bank account details.In a Communication dated 27.12.2016 a month’s later issued by the same Deputy Commissioner, Nagaon to the Joint Secretary to the Govt. Assam intimating the names of various next of kins of the martyrs of Assam agitation falling under Nagaon District whose ex-gratia sanction amount sanctioned/Momento have not been received by the next of kin concerned for the reasons shown against their names. The list enclosed upon being perused reveals that as regards the martyr , the name of the Petitioner was shown as a daughter along with his bank details and in the remarks column, it was mentioned as “NOK changed”.

The Court had taken up the matter on 12.10.2023 and on that day the Court sought for certain instructions from the District Commissioner, Nagaon as to under what basis the Respondent No. 4 was paid the ex-gratia amount. The Court also sought for the instructions as to whether the payment was made on the basis of the next of kin certificate produced by the Respondent No. 4 and if so, the said details may be mentioned in the affidavit to be filed by the District Commissioner, Nagaon. This Court further enquired with the District Commissioner, Nagaon as to what steps the said authority would take if the amount of ex-gratia is paid to the wrong beneficiary.\

On 16.11.2023 , Government Advocate has placed before the Court the instructions as sought for vide the order dated 12.10.2023. From the said instructions, it reveals that the martyr was killed in the Assam Agitation 83 on 30.11.1981. It was further mentioned that the Circle Officer, Samaguri Revenue Circle has reported that the wife of the martyr was appointed in a Government job and she got married and used to reside at her second matrimonial home. It was further mentioned that there was no Communication between the wife of the Martyr and other family members of the Martyr. Further to that, it was also mentioned that in order to pay tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their life during the Assam movement “Shraddhanjali Programme” was organized centrally by the Implementation of the Assam Accord Department, Government of Assam on 10.12.2016 at to honour the families of the martyrs and extend financial assistance to them. Accordingly, the Principal Secretary, Govt. of Assam, Implementation of Assam Accord Department issued a letter to the Respondent No. 4 to attend the said meeting and accordingly Rs.5 lakhs was sanctioned in his favour as additional ex-gratia grant to the martyrs family. It was also mentioned that no next of kin certificate was issued in the name of the Respondent No. 4 by the District Authority as heirs of Late Loknath Saikia. The said instructions dated 02.11.2023 which have been furnished before the Court.

It was submitted at the bar by the counsels appearing on behalf of the Respondent Department that the said ex-gratia amount is being paid on the basis of next of kin certificate issued by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner.

From the facts narrated , the Bench noted that the Respondent No. 4 was paid the ex-gratia amount by the Respondent Authorities on its own accord without the next of kin certificate being produced and the amount was disbursed to the Respondent No. 4 at the own volition of the Respondent Authorities. However, the entitlement in respect to the said amount was of the Petitioner who admittedly is the daughter of the Martyr.

Under such circumstances, the Court opined that the Respondent Authorities cannot deprive the Petitioner of the grant of ex-gratia amount of Rs.5 lakhs on account of their fault of disbursing the said amount wrongfully to the Respondent No. 4.

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