26, Aug 2015
Thursday, 27 August 2015 | pns | New Delhi
Paying compensation for damaged religious structures post-Gujarat riots will offend the secular fabric of the Constitution, said the Gujarat Government in Supreme Court on Wednesday. Finding itself in a spot after the Gujarat High Court directed compensation for all religious structures damaged during the 2002 riots, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta who argued the State’s appeal said in the Constitution, Article 27 lays down a bar on States to compel any citizen to pay taxes to cover expenses of maintenance or construction of any religion or religious denomination.
Referring to the HC order passed in a PIL filed by Islamic Relief Committee — Gujarat (IRCG), Mehta said, “Taxpayers do not belong to any community in the eyes of the Government. I may have a right to be an atheist. I may say that my money can’t be spent for maintenance of any religion or religious structure.”
By asking the State to compensate the religious groups, Article 27 is violated and such a decision would be “violating” the secular fabric of the Constitution.
The submissions provoked the Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and PC Pant to question whether it can direct a State Government to compensate for damaged places of worship following a situation of law and order (as in the case of 2002 riots) and whether it went against concept of secularism envisaged in the Constitution.”