ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Differential Value of Compensation


The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government’s announcement of a compensation package for the victims of Lakhimpur Kheri has led to at least three different interpretations. To begin with, those who have been leading the farmers’ protests and hence are on the side of the victims of violence in Lakhimpur Kheri seem to justify the compensation using a moral norm that provides a much stronger claim for compensation. The claim can be considered stronger on the grounds that the families of those who lost their lives and those who were seriously injured in the road rage need immediate protection from further emotional breakdown and material loss. Although, some may also look at such compensation as a kind of strategy to bring out an indirect acknowledgement from within the government that the “fault” lies with those who mowed down the farmers. One may, thus, argue that such moral consideration may add to the value of compensation. Since the compensation package has been announced by the UP government, one may ask which value addition did the government plan to achieve through compensation. Put differently, why did the state government under reference accept what could be termed as a resource penalty or compensation for the family of those who lost their lives or for those who were injured in the road rage?

On a different note, the state govern­ment could have added to the value of compensation by expressing sympathy with the victims’ family and apologising to the public for the loss of life. It could have also added to the value of compensation had the government in question treated the accused as per the procedure that is followed for apprehending every other accused or, to put it differently, to ensure equality before law, which is a necessary condition for the realisation of the ideal notion of justice. A commitment to the constitutional principle of equality before law adds moral value to the policy of compensation. The lack of genuine respect for these considerations makes the act of compensation look morally hollow or a part of pure strategy. Compensation makes moral sense when it is premised on the ethical generosity of saying sorry, and the moral responsibility of standing with the principle of equality before law without dragging one’s feet. The suo motu cognisance taken by the Supreme Court in regard to the Lakhimpur case hints at the government’s strategy to drag their feet.

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Updated On : 8th Nov, 2021
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