Jammu and Kashmir High Court not for ban on use of pellet guns, dismisses PIL plea

‘If the protest is not peaceful, security persons are attacked by violent mobs, they have to use force in self defence’

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:36 pm IST

Published - March 11, 2020 06:49 pm IST - Srinagar

Policemen use pellet guns towards Kashmiri protestors during a protest in Srinagar. File (Representational image)

Policemen use pellet guns towards Kashmiri protestors during a protest in Srinagar. File (Representational image)

Dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking a ban on use of pellet shotguns on protesters, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday said the security forces “have to necessarily use force in their self defence.”

Justices Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Ali Mohammad Magrey said: “Almost every day, in the guise of protests, the security personnel, their camps and police stations were targeted by unruly crowds. If the protest is not peaceful and the security persons are attacked by huge and violent mobs, they have to necessarily use force in their self defence and for protecting public property.”

The judges underlined that it is not a case where compensation is being sought or claimed for wrongdoing of any security force personnel or for violating any fundamental right of any citizen. “... but for discharge of public duty by such security force personnel who were being attacked by violent mobs during that period. Since the government has discharged its obligation, nothing more needs to be done in this PIL,” the Bench observed.

100 blinded

The PIL plea was filed by the J&K High Court Bar Association in 2016, when around 4,000 protesters suffered pellet injuries and around 100 persons were blinded and seven deaths were reported due to the use of pellet shotgun. It called for filing cases against those who misused the pellet guns “for causing unlawful bodily injury and deprivation of eyesight.”

The court said it was of the opinion that regarding the constitutional tort, the state had fulfilled its obligation, inasmuch as it had made ex gratia payments to most of the injured persons.

“Having regard to the ground situation prevailing, the Ministry of Home Affairs has already constituted a Committee of Experts for exploring other alternative to pellet guns... We are not inclined to prohibit the use of pellet guns in rare and extreme situations,” the court observed.

PVA shocked

The court decision has come as a shock for the Kashmir-based Pellet Victims’ Association (PVA), which has been holding a campaign for banning shotguns. “Many youths can’t see. There was a need to take a strong note on the use of pellet guns. Pellet and other deadliest weapons are used against unarmed civilians, including students,” a PVA spokesman said.

Talking to The Hindu , a pellet victim from Pulwama said, “The court has failed to create any deterrence or even question the wanton use of pellet guns in Kashmir in the past. Blinding people and doling out compensation is not justice. The least the court could have done was making the security forces accountable for the large scale injuries and fixing the responsibility. The judgment has dashed our hopes to see an end to use of pellet guns in J&K,” said the victim.














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