(1.)Petitioner is the proprietor of a vegetarian hotel by name 'New Ananda Bhavan' at Kalvathy road, Fort Cochin. It is alleged that he had been running the said hotel for about last more than 20 years. Petitioner claims that his hotel is reputed as a good vegetarian hotel catering to the needs of people belonging to all walks of life, particularly to those in the middle class and employees working in Fort Cochin area. On account of the goodwill that could be acquired by him during the last about 20 years, his business had been prospering. Petitioner contends that he suffered substantial loss on account of the mob attack on his hotel and the looting which took place on 16-10-1990 which could have been prevented if appropriate and timely action had been taken by the respondents. He therefore seeks a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to compensate the petitioner to the extent of Rs. 86,000/- for the wanton destruction of property and loss of business of the petitioner caused on account of failure of duty and negligence on the part of the respondents. He also seeks a direction to the respondents to afford him a similar treatment as in the case of other persons who were affected by riots in Mattancherry and Palghat.
(2.)The facts as alleged by the petitioner in. the original petition are as follows: On the murder of a priest of the mosque at Kattoor, there arose communal disturbance in certain parts of Kerala which led even to riot in some places. The ripples of such disturbance were felt in Fort Cochin/Mattancherry area of the city of Cochin also. Respondents 2 to 4 who were in-charge of law and order in the district were aware of the fact that trouble would erupt in Mattancherry/Fort Cochin area on a large scale if necessary precautions were not taken in time. On 16th October, 1990, there was a 'harthal' in Mattancherry/Fort Cochin area to protest against the murder of the priest. A conference of top officers of Government and other were convened by the 4th respondent at his office at For Cochin on the previous day of the 'harthal' in order to chalk out preventive steps to be taken and also to decide about the measures to be adopted to give sufficient protection to the life and property of the citizens in case of breach of peace. Even though petitioner also came to know about the meeting and proposed programme chalked out by the officers by way of abundant caution, petitioner decided not to open his hotel on that day. But, by about 11.30 in the morning of 16-10-1990, about 100 persons armed with deadly weapons and instruments, attacked petitioner's business premises, broke open the hotel, caused severe damage to the doors and windows and entered the hotel. Petitioner is staying at Thripunithura, about 18 kms. from the place where the hotel is situate. But, some of his workers were inside the hotel. They were threatened by the mob and were forced to run away from the premises. Thereafter, the mob destroyed valuable items of properties inside the hotel including a refrigerator, stabilizer, tables, chairs, cash counters, mirrors, telephone, doors windows, emergency lights, tiles, hotel name-boards and other-articles. They ransacked the store and took away rice, sugar etc. kept in bags and all other consumable goods like fruits, vegetables, coconuts etc., They also removed costly brass utensils, steel utensils, furniture, currency notes to the extent of Rs. 15,000/- and coins worth about Rs. 2,000/-. Bank pass books, cheque books, kerosene permits, bills, seals, account books etc., were also destroyed. Petitioner estimates the total cost of the articles and goods thus destroyed and taken away at Rs. 74,000/-
(3.)Since there was no transport facility on the day of 'harthal', it was not possible for the petitioner to travel from his home to the place of business. When the looting was going on, one of the employees of the petitioner reported to the Fort Cochin police station and requested them to render immediate help to prevent the loss and destruction. But, unfortunately, police did not take any action on his request. When the petitioner received telephonic message from one of his employees from Fort Cochin about the destruction that was being caused to his business premises, he also immediately contacted Fort Cochin police station, Asst. Commissioner of Police, Police Control Room and the Inspector of Police and requested them to render necessary help to save his business premises and the properties therein. But, unfortunately, the police did not react to his desperate call for help. Though the respondents were aware of the possibility of such riots in Fort Cochin/Mattancherry area and though they had taken a decision to render necessary steps to give protection to the life and property of the citizens at the meeting held on 15th October, respondents miserably failed to discharge their duty and render protection to the petitioner's business premises. Petitioner submits that apart from the loss which he suffered on that day due to destruction of his assets, he could not-re-open the hotel and conduct business for about two months. He had thus lost a minimum of Rs. 5,000/- during this period on account of loss of business. Apart from the above, since all his account books were destroyed, he could not collect from his regular customers, balance amount due from them. On this count, he had suffered a loss of Rs. 7,000/-. Thus, according to the petitioner, he had suffered a total amount of Rs. 86,000/- as a result of the failure on the part of the respondents to. discharge their duty to give protection to the property of the petitioner.