J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its disapproval of the constitution of the ‘Salwa Judum’ (self-defence groups) by the Chhattisgarh government and giving them arms to tackle the naxal menace.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, heading a two-Judge Bench, asked Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam: “How can the State give arms to some persons? The State will be abetting in a crime if these private persons kill others.”

The Bench that included Justice Aftab Alam was hearing a petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Ramachandra Guha and E.A.S. Sarma challenging the setting up of Salwa Judum. The petitioners alleged that in the guise of countering the naxal movement, the ‘Salwa Judum’ was indulging in killings and committing atrocities against tribals.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Ashok Desai along with T.R. Andhyarujina submitted that about 47,000 people were kept in camps in villages against their wishes. Mr. Desai submitted that these self-defence groups had killed many innocent people.

He said the National Commission for the Protection of Children Rights had visited the camps and submitted a report. The Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Veerappa Moily, had recommended the disbanding of Salwa Judum. He wanted the court to set up a committee to visit the camps .

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