Today: Jun 19, 2024

HC dismisses plea seeking ban on use of pellet guns

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court today dismissed a 2016 petition seeking prosecution of state forces alleged of using pellet guns on non combatants in Kashmir.

Fourteen civilians were killed by pellet guns in Kashmir in 2016 said a report by the Amnesty International. Around 3,800 were injured with many blinded (including infants) between 2016 to November 2018 in the region a report by the J&K State Human Rights Commission said.

Pronouncing its judgment a division bench of the J&K Union Territory High Court comprising Justices A M Magrey and Dhiraj Singh Thakur said “the Government has discharged its obligation, nothing more needs to be done in this Public interest Litigation (PIL). It merits dismissal and is, therefore, dismissed”.

The petition was filed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association through Muhammad Ashraf Bhat in July 2016.

It prayed the respondents, their agents and servants be prohibited by a from using 12-Bore Pellet Guns and other Bore and Cartridges containing pellets as a means of crowd control against any group of people, including protestors in the Jammu and Kashmir.

“The use of pellet gun be totally banned as a means of crowd control”, the petitioners demanded.

They sought “all the officers, who took the decision of using the pellet gun at the protestors and non-protestors after 8th July, 2016 and those who actually fired the pellet guns be prosecuted”.

They also sought compensation and medical treatment for all those affected by the pellets in Kashmir.

The petitioners claimed that 4000 civilians were injured with 100 blinded by the pellet gun use by government forces in Kashmir.

It said excessive force was used against civilian protestors and normal procedures to deal with dispersal of assemblies were sidelined.

The judges held that for dispersal of mob and maintenance of law and order detailed instructions are issued to the law enforcing agencies, “whether in a particular situation or place the use of force is excessive or not can be ascertained only after investigation and finding rendered by some authority/Court factually”, they said.

The task of the police and law enforcing agencies becomes more difficult and delicate when violence is fanned by separatists, said the bench. “So long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable. What kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time or in a given situation/place, has to be decided by the persons in charge of the place where the attack is happening”, they added.

“This Court in the writ jurisdiction without any finding rendered by the competent forum/authority cannot decide whether the use of force in particular incident is excessive or not”, the bench held.

Dismissing the PIL, the court said it was not inclined to prohibit the use of pellet guns “in rare and extreme situations” before an expert committee constituted by the Union Home Ministry through a memorandum dated July 26, 2016 submits its report and “a decision is taken at the government level”.

It said there are no findings of use of excessive force, violating the guidelines issued in the SOP, and declined prosecution of the state security forces personnel alleged of excessive use of force.

It directed the administration to ensure that all injured persons are extended adequate medical treatment for whatever injury they sustain and provide all possible required medical treatment to the injured by specialists.