Loss due to violence to be recovered from Dera Sacha Sauda, rules HC
The losses caused to property due to violence and arson by the followers of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will be recovered from Dera Sacha Sauda, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled today, according to a senior government lawyer.
The full bench of the High Court also directed the Haryana government to use weapon or force, if required, to tackle the situation arising out of the CBI court verdict in the rape case against the Dera head. The bench will hear the matter further tomorrow, Additional Solicitor General of India Satya Pal Jain said.
The full bench comprising acting Chief Justice S Singh Saron, Justice Avneesh Jhingan and Justice Surya Kant was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Panchkula resident raising law and order concerns as over 1.5 lakh people have reportedly entered the district despite prohibitory orders.
The court ordered that "in case people indulge in causing loss to the properties, the process will be videographed and total loss will be recovered from the Dera," Jain said.
The bench directed the authorities in Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh to maintain law and order at any cost. The court ordered that no political leader, including a minister, will interfere in the working of officers in handling the situation arising out of the verdict.
The court also directed that no political, social or religious leader will issue any provocative statement and that FIR would be registered in case it was done by anyone.
"Officers dealing with the situation will perform their job without fear and favour. In case any officer is found wanting in performing duty, strict action will be taken by the court," the bench ordered, according to Jain.
Jain informed the court that 93 companies (about 9300 personnel) of paramilitary forces have been provided by the Centre to Punjab, 103 to Haryana and 22 to Chandigarh. He told the court that in case Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh needed additional strength of the Army, it will be provided.
The bench asked the Dera Sacha Sauda lawyer SK Garg Narwana to convey to the sect followers not to indulge in any violence or breach of peace. "In case anybody indulges in violence or breach of peace, the Haryana government can take stern action against them," the bench said.
The court directed the officers of the Haryana government "to use weapon or force as per the demand of the situation". The court also asked officers concerned to videograph the court complex.
Haryana's Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan told the court that certain areas occupied by the Dera followers have been vacated. He informed the court that the Haryana government has already prepared two plans to deal with both scenarios - if the Dera head is convicted or acquitted.
Yesterday, the court had pulled up the Haryana government for not imposing Section 144 CrPC properly to prevent the huge gathering of Dera followers in Panchkula.
The court had directed the Centre to immediately provide adequate forces required to deal with any law and order issue while also asking the Dera to apprise it of the steps being taken by it to defuse the situation.
The petitioner, a practising lawyer himself, had attached photographs of Dera followers camping on the roads of Panchkula and also circulars issued by Punjab and Haryana highlighting the volatile situation.