Justice Verma’s reminder

Former Chief Justice of India, Justice J S Verma has again done some plain speaking. This time around on the issue whether a rape could fall under the ambit of immunity which armed forces enjoy in the line of duty while carrying their anti-insurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir. People in general in J&K, and human rights and women’s rights defenders in particular, had expressed shock on the stand taken by the Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar suggesting that “it was hard to determine the rights and wrongs of actions” committed by armed forces in the line of their duty. Justice J S Verma has rebutted it well; maintaining that sexual assault on women can in no way be termed as part of official duty. Justice Verma’s contention that “no part of official duty of anyone invested with any public power can be in any way even remotely connected with sexual assault on women” is stating the obvious. He has gone even further saying that “any of Army personnel, paramilitary personnel or any other functionary saying that this could be part of his official duty means something radically wrong with that thinking.” Justice Verma’s line of thinking is, quite naturally, in keeping with the basic norms of human decency and rights. And that is where the Prime Minister and Jammu & Kashmir government need to take a cue from. What has added strength and credibility to Justice Verma Commission’s stand is the observation made by the Planning Commission in the 12th Plan document that women in conflict areas remain vulnerable to abuse. As has been emphasised earlier too, an approach that seeks to provide blanket immunity to armed forces is immensely unhelpful in establishing credibility of the rule of law in Jammu & Kashmir. Such approach, while being intrinsically unconstitutional and unlawful, also runs counter to the sanctity of the democratic process that is sought to be established in Jammu & Kashmir.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST

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