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The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Wednesday declined to ban pellet guns and observed that use of force by security agencies is “inevitable” while dealing with protesters who take to violence.
The division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also declined the plea in a PIL to issue directions to prosecute officers involved in use of pellet guns. It said the issue cannot be considered in the present writ petition since no findings of use of excessive force or violation of standard operating procedure (SOP) have been recorded by any fact-finding authority.
“It is manifest that so long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable,’’ the court observed. It also said, “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 persons in charge of the place (of attack).”
The court was hearing a PIL filed by J&K High Court Bar Association on July 30.
The court said given the situation in the Valley, and the fact that the Home Ministry has already constituted an experts’ committee to explore alternative to pellet guns, it is not inclined to prohibit use of pellet guns in rare and extreme situations before the committee files its report “and a decision (is) taken at the government level”.
The bench observed that whether police are following SOP while dealing with protests can be individually decided, and no general finding can be given. It said it has “recorded” submissions and statement by the state Advocate General and Director General of Police that guidelines issued in the SOP are being followed. In response to the PIL, CRPF had earlier stated that it is “difficult” to follow SOP on use of weapons in view of the “dynamic and mobile” ground situation. On September 6, J&K Police had told the court that SOPs are being followed, but it is not always possible to maintain the prescribed distance while using pellet guns.
The court also directed health authorities to provide adequate treatment.