The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday said that Dera Sacha Sauda sect properties could be attached “if it is found that sect followers were responsible” for the large-scale violence unleashed in both states after a court held the Dera chief guilty of rape.
The court also sought a list of properties and assets the sect owns.
The High Court bench of Justices S.S. Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan, in its resumed hearing, said that “whosoever has been instigating and inciting the crowd that has gathered to commit these acts of arson and violence, they would be sternly dealt with”.
“The damages that are caused to the public and private properties shall be recovered from them,” said the judges.
“Dera Sacha Sauda shall submit a list of its assets and properties, which can be attached in case it is found that they and their followers are responsible for the acts.”
Issuing a stern warning to the Dera and its followers, the judges asked Haryana Advocate General BR Mahajan to tell its civil administration to “assess the damage and bring the statement before us”.
The court also directed the central government to provide additional forces to Punjab.
The court’s observation came after Punjab’s counsel informed the court that the situation was tense in the state after the verdict holding Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of rape and sexual exploitation.
It also sought details from the Panchkula administration regarding the damages to public and private property in the violence.
At least 30 people have died in the violence unleashed by Dera Sacha Sauda followers.
Tens of thousands of followers of the Dera chief went on a rampage, burning vehicles and buildings and attacking media persons after a special CBI court here pronounced the verdict in the 2002 case.
Earlier in the day, a bench of judges also categorically told the Haryana government that politicians, including ministers, should not be allowed to visit Panchkula, where the CBI court is located.
“If the politicians interfere, they needed to be booked,” said the judges.
Apprehending violence after the verdict, the High Court had also directed the police to videograph any cases of arson, and arrest those responsible for that.
“Suicide is not without instigation, and instigation itself is an offence,” the bench had said, adding they did not want to see police men being beaten up.
On Thursday, the court had asked the Centre to provide additional forces ahead of the judgment.
A Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Surinder Singh Saron and Justice Avneesh Jhingan had said they “did not want a situation similar to the Jat reservation stir”.