Apply mind before using pellet guns: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.

A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government while seeking their replies on a plea alleging “excessive” use of pellet guns in the state.

pellet guns
Mother of Tabish Bhat,16, whose eye was damaged after Indian government forces fired pellets at him during a protest shows his damaged eye as he rests on a hospital bed in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Hospitals in India’s portion of Kashmir are overwhelmed, with hundreds of wounded patients pouring in as the region reels from days of clashes between anti-India protesters and government troops. The violence erupted over the weekend after government troops killed a top leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest rebel group fighting Indian rule in the troubled Himalayan region. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

The apex court also sought assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the issue and asked him to submit copy of the report submitted by the Expert Committee constituted for exploring other alternatives to pellet guns.

“Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi is requested to assist this Court and to place on record a copy of the report, if any, submitted by the Expert Committee, constituted by the Government of India in terms of its Office Memorandum/Order dated July 26, 2016… Needful be done within six weeks from today,” the bench also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud said while posting the matter for hearing on January 30.

“All that we want is an assurance that pellet guns will not be used indiscriminately or excessively in the state and will be resorted to after proper application of mind,” the bench observed.

The court was hearing an appeal filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association against the High Court order seeking stay on use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to its use.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.

Taking note of the statement, the High Court had disposed of the petition, saying that no further direction was required since the matter was being looked at by the Centre.

The High Court Bar Association challenged the order, contending that High Court should not have disposed the petition and instead waited or called for the report of the expert committee.

The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.

It had also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that all the injured are extended adequate medical treatment by specialists for whatever injury they sustain.

(With PTI inputs)

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