SC Questions Union Govt. On Pellet Guns

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday weighed in on the government’s use of pellet guns in Kashmir during the uprising last year following the death of popular Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander – Burhan Wani.

“There is no question of the court saying what weapons to use but the situation has arisen and we are a welfare state after all,” the court said.

“We are of an impression that there are other methods that can be adopted,” the court added.

A bench comprising Chief justice of India JS Khehar, justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul was hearing a petition filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.

Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir, Jahangir Iqbal Ganaie said that the apex court read the expert committee report and asked the centre government to come up with its stand on the recommendation of the committee.

He said that the expert committee has in its report suggested the use of other means like laser and PAVA shells than pellets guns for effective crowd control.

The Union government placed before the court an October 2016 report by the ministry of home affairs on alternatives to pellet guns but asked the court to not accept the copies on record. The government’s top law officer attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said that the report might fall into undesirable hands.

Rohtagi also defended the use of pellet guns in Kashmir and said that the issue “is not for the courts to decide”.

“Of course we cannot tell between a citizen and a mercenary masquerading as a citizen when there is a mob. We are not denying that excessive force might have been used in certain cases but the issue is not judicially manageable.”

The court also asked the government to state steps taken for minors who were injured due to pellet guns. The Centre has sought two weeks to reply.

The case will be heard next on 10 April.

The petition has been filed by Kashmir High Court Bar Association (KHBA) whose top lawyers including Mian Qayoom and Zaffar Ahmed Shah are arguing the case.

The division bench of the supreme court comprising the then Chief Justice, Justic T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chanderchood court had in December last year had admitted the petition for hearing and directed the central government to submit the report of the team of experts constituted on the use of pellet guns before the court.
 

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