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Home > News > Report

Damage to public property: SC concerned

June 18, 2007 15:13 IST

Expressing dissatisfaction over the virtual ineffectiveness of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, the Supreme Court on Monday sought details from the Centre, and the governments of all states and Union territories on the number of cases registered under the Act during the last 25 years of its existence and their outcome.

A vacation bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice P P Naolekar also appointed two committees, one headed by retired judge Justice K D Thomas and the other headed by senior advocate F S Nariman.

The court also issued notices to all the states and Union territories, directing them to file their responses within three weeks.

The court also rejected the allegations made by the Rajasthan director-general of police and the Delhi police commissioner that the media played an irresponsible role during the Gujjar agitation in support of their demand for the inclusion of their community in the ST category.

The court in its order said, "We are told that the media played havoc during the coverage of the Gujjar agitation by exaggerating the damage caused to public and private properties during the week-long agitation, we don't prima facie agree with the view and the media has a vital role to play and it doesn't seem to be correct that irresponsible coverage accelerated tension and led to a heavy loss of life.''

The committee headed by Justice Thomas will have senior counsel K Parasaran ,Secretary Law, former CBI director R K Raghwan and a home ministry official not below the rank of the additional secretary as member.

Solicitor General G E Vhanvati will be the convenor of the committee and Pranoy Roy of NDTV, the editor-in-chief of Indian Express and the Times of India will also be the members.

The second committee headed by Nariman will also have the Information and Broadcasting secretary, Home secretary, former CBI director R K Raghwan and editor-in-chief of Dainik Jagran as members and Solicitor General Vhanvati will be the convenor of this committee also.

The first committee, headed by Justice Thomas, will examine the issue of efficacy of the statute which has turned out to be a complete failure to check damage to public and private properties by the agitators and will also suggest to make more effective and suitable changes which are required to be made in the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.

The committee will be free to co-opt any responsible member from the public.

The court, however, refused to issue notices on a petition filed by All India Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti and Sangathan.

The court adjourned the matter till the last week of November and directed the states and union territories to complete the pleading by November 15.

Twenty people, including 18 Gujjars and two police officials, died during the Gujjar agitation.