The Supreme Court has modified its July 5 order banning appointment of special police officers (SPOs) in naxal-affected States and said it would apply only to Chhattisgarh.

The Centre, in its application filed in August, sought recall of the order insofar as it pertained to references against the Union Government in paragraphs 75 (ii) and 76 on the ground that they were against the spirit of the Constitution.

In Para 75 (ii), the court directed the Centre to desist forthwith from using any of its funds for supporting, directly or indirectly, the recruitment of SPOs for purposes of engaging them in any form of counter-insurgency activities against Maoist/Naxalite groups.

In Para 76, the court held that the appointment of SPOs to perform any of the duties of regular police officers, other than those specified in Sections 23(1)(h) and 23(1)(i) of Chhattisgarh Police Act, 2007, was unconstitutional.

On Friday, a Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and S.S. Nijjar, in a brief order, said: “Under the July 5 judgment we have asked the Union of India to cease and desist from using any funds directly or indirectly for SPOs. The order as passed was in the context of Chhattisgarh and Solicitor-General Rohinton Nariman has observed that it should be confined to Chhattisgarh, otherwise it will create a great deal of law and order problem in other States.”

The July 5 order would now be confined to Chhattisgarh, the Bench said.

On Chhattisgarh's application seeking two months' time for vacating educational institutions, occupied by security forces, the court agreed but said no further extension would be granted.

Earlier, Mr. Nariman and counsel Siddharth Dave, appearing for the Centre, said if the July 5 order was implemented in toto, it would pose a severe difficulty to the government in undertaking anti-insurgency operations in the northeast, Jammu and Kahmir, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and other parts of the country.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for the petitioners, social anthropologist Nandini Sundar and others, said the SPO order could be confined to Chhattisgarh but other observations made in the July 5 judgment should not be interfered with.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Chhattisgarh, said the State had enacted a law and these SPOs were no longer deployed in front duties.