Thursday, February 29, 2024

HC directs state govt to pay ex gratia to Assam Agitation martyr’s daughter

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Guwahati, Nov 30: The Gauhati High Court has directed the Assam government to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh, under its ex gratia compensation scheme, to the daughter of a man martyred during the Assam Agitation.

Notably, the claim for compensation had initially been refused on the ground that the ex gratia had been already disbursed to the brother of the deceased person.

Making an observation during a recent judgment, a single judge bench of the high court stated that the ex gratia has been paid by the respondent authorities on its own accord without the next of kin certificate being produced by the brother (respondent number 4) of the deceased.

“It further reveals from the instructions which have been placed before this court during the course of hearing that the amount was disbursed to the respondent number 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 Late Loknath Saikia. Under such circumstances, this court is of the opinion that the respondent authorities cannot deprive the petitioner of the grant of ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh on account of their fault of disbursing the said amount wrongfully to respondent number 4,” Justice Baruah noted.

It may be mentioned that the petitioner is the daughter of Late Loknath Saikia who was killed by the police when he was participating in the Assam Agitation on November 30, 1981.

Learning about the said ex-gratia compensation scheme, the petitioner applied for the said grant but the same was refused on the ground that the amount had been already disbursed to the brother of the deceased.

Thus, the petitioner filed the writ petition on August 13, 2017, and enclosed the certificate issued by additional deputy magistrate, Nagaon, certifying that her father was killed in connection with the participation in the Assam Agitation and that the petitioner was the daughter of the deceased person.

In its affidavit, the Assam government submitted that the ex gratia was made to the brother of the deceased on the basis of a report dated November 25, 2016 received from the Nagaon deputy commissioner. It was further submitted that since the amount of ex gratia was already paid to the brother of the deceased, the question of payment to another beneficiary did not arise.

It was also mentioned that no next of kin certificate was issued in the name of the deceased’s brother by the district authority.

“From the facts narrated, it reveals that the respondent number 4 was paid the ex-gratia amount by the respondent authorities on its own accord without the next of kin certificate being produced. However, the entitlement in respect to the said amount was of the petitioner who admittedly is the daughter of Late Loknath Saikia,” the court noted.

“Under such circumstances, this court is of the opinion that the respondent authorities cannot deprive the petitioner of the grant of ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh on account of their fault of disbursing the said amount wrongfully to respondent number 4.

Accordingly, the court directed the respondents to take appropriate steps so that the ex gratia is disbursed to the petitioner within a period of 60 days from the date of submission of a certified copy of the judgment.

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