Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday gave the Centre two weeks to present alternatives to using pellet guns to disperse agitating mobs.
The SC’s direction came on hearing a plea filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association (KHBA) which was seeking the direction of the court on what it says is the misuse of pellet guns in the Kashmir Valley.
Such guns are used routinely to disperse often-violent protesting mobs in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir. And such guns also routinely badly maim and often blind protesters.
The SC told the Centre to consider effective means other than pellet guns and ordered it to present alternatives by April 10.
Last December, the SC said pellet guns should not be used indiscriminately and excessively in Jammu and Kashmir for controlling unruly crowds. At the time, the apex court also sought assurances from the Centre and the State government that they would direct the use of pellet guns only after proper application of mind by authorities concerned.
The Bar Association had initially filed the plea last July in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which in September refused to ban pellet guns saying that as long as there is violence on the streets, using them is a necessary measure.
The Association then challenged that order in the Supreme Court, which the court began hearing in December.
During the December 14 hearing, the Bar Association’s senior advocates ZA Shah and MA Qayoom urged the SC to stay the use of pellet guns as an interim measure.
However, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre,
said pellet guns were used as per Standard Operating Procedure, which already requires the prior order of a magistrate or a senior police functionary.