The Supreme Court of India took notice of the woefully inadequate law of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, while hearing a petition on violent protests resulting in repeated damage to railway tracks and other public and private properties with particular reference to Gujjar agitations.
A Bench of the apex court comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and A K Ganguly resolved to pass a direction asking the politicians, individuals and organizations who resort to violent agitatations to compensate the property owner, be it the government or any private individual.
The SC Bench resolved that it is time for the apex court to step in with elaborate guidelines until the Union Government came out with an appropriate amendment to make the present law more effective.
It asked amicus curiae Rajeev Dhawan and Solicitor General G E Vahanvati to give suggestions for the guidelines that needed to be put in place immediately to deter extensive damage to public and private property during agitations that turn violent.
It said that jailing the violent demonstrators did not solve any problem for the property owners who have lost it all. The owner has to move a civil court seeking damage, the Bench said.
It suggested setting up of damage assessment boards at the district level under the supervision of high courts in the states for speedy compensation to the victims of violence.