The J&K High Court Bar Association, Srinagar, earned a small victory at the Supreme Court on April 28, when the apex court allowed it to meet some of those arrested in J&K to try and work out a solution that can benefit all and bring peace. They can, however, meet only those who the government allows them to meet.
This is a part result of a petition filed by the association, challenging the use of pellet guns in J&K to disperse mobs.
At the last hearing, the bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul had inspected some photographs given to them by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. Rohatgi’s idea was to demonstrate that in the use of staggered force the armed forces adopt the course of least damage up to the final stage, when pellet guns are used. Live ammunition comes only after that.
Rohatgi had tried to explain that only when the mob comes too near the armed forces, harsher measures are adopted.
The counsel for the J&K association had said they were in a position to bring out the truth, which will assist the court in issuing appropriate directions. To do this, they want two weeks to file an affidavit with supporting material.
On April 28, the petitioner handed over an album of photographs containing army atrocities. The bench examined the photographs and asked the petitioner to suggest solutions.
The petitioner said that the government must talk to people and withdraw the troops the way the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government did. “Now they are going into the colleges and dragging the students out and chasing them, so they retaliate,” said the counsel.
The bench asked what can be done to solve this. “We cannot just ask the force to go back. You should give a solution.”
At that the petitioner suggested that as a first step the petitioners will have to talk with the stakeholders. Rohatgi protested, saying (about facilitating the petitioners to meet those in jail): “We don’t know who they want to meet. Why should we allow them to meet the separatists?”
That was when the CJI said: “You should facilitate their meeting with persons whom the law does not prevent from meeting.”
The next sitting will be on May 9, when, possibly, results of the meeting will come out.
—India Legal Bureau