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The Gujarat government is off the hook, as far as funding for the rebuilding of shrines and mosques destroyed in the 2002 Godhra riots is concerned. The Supreme Court bench of new Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Prafulla C Pant and DY Chandrachud on Tuesday (August 29) overturned a Gujarat High Court order which had said that the government would have to pay for the re-building of mosques destroyed during the riots.

The bench maintained that the high court order was not tenable in law.

The court, however, did provide a way out for the rebuilding process, saying that the state government’s 2008-2009 scheme of providing for restoration of commercial, residential as well as religious structures will apply.

The high court had wanted an assessment of the cost of restoration, but the top court has said that this will be carried out as per the scheme.

The Gujarat government had moved the top court against the high court order. Arguing for the government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the tax payers’ money cannot be used for restoration or construction of any religious place. Article 27 of the Constitution, said Mehta, prohibits coercing people to “to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination”.

India Legal Bureau

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