Muzaffarnagar riots: SC issues notice to centre, UP

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday issued notice to the central and Uttar Pradesh governments on two petitions seeking a CBI probe into the Muzaffarnagar clashes that left 38 dead and for providing relief to victims.

A bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued notice on two petitions -- one by Mohammad Haroon and eight other residents of Muzaffarnagar and the other by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).

The court made it clear that it was not commenting on the plea to direct the central government to discharge its obligations under article 355 of the constitution which is linked to President's Rule.

"We are not saying anything on article 355," said Sathasivam.

Failure to act in accordance with the direction of the central government under article 355 could invite the dismissal of the state government and imposition of President's Rule.

The court also directed the central and Uttar Pradesh governments to inform it about the steps taken to assist the people stranded in Muzaffarnagar without food, water and shelter.

It sought details on further steps being contemplated by the central and state governments to mitigate the suffering of the riot victims.

The court also sought details on the opening of proper relief camps and providing psychological help to the victims.

It kept open the prayer seeking a high-power inquiry committee headed by a retired apex court judge of "reputation and integrity" to inquire into the violence.

Appearing for Haroon, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium told the court the incidents leading to the communal violence were taking place in the state for nearly a year.

Things were building in Muzaffarnagar since July and there were intelligence reports but nothing was done to address the situation, he contended.

"According to you, in such a situation, the role of the government of India is much more," Chief Justice Sathasivam said, as Subramanium sought lay equal blame on the central government.

"Every person under the sun was contacted. Prime minister, secretary, ministry of home affairs and the (Uttar Pradesh) governor and there was no response," Subramanium told the court.

SCBA president M.N. Krishnamani pressed for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Muzaffarnagar violence.

Resisting the prayers for a CBI probe and direction under article 355 of the constitution, senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, urged the court that it should limit its notice in respect of the prayers seeking relief for the victims and stranded people.

The court directed the matter to be listed for Sep 16.

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