The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Government of India as well as State Government seeking objections to a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association against use of pellet guns for crowd control.
A division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey sought the objections by August 17 after hearing senior advocate Z A Shah, who represented the Bar Association.
The court also issued notice to Director General of Police, DG CRPF, DG BSF, all DCs, SSPs in Kashmir, Director SKIMS, Medical Superintendents of SMHS, Bone and Joints hospitals and Principal SKIMS Medical College Bemina.
"The use of pellet guns be totally banned as a means of crowd control," the Bar has pleaded in the PIL.
"The use of pellet gun firing cartridges, which contain 500-600 metallic pellets, at unarmed protesting youth is direct infringement of provisions of the Constitution, in particular the Article 21," the Bar has submitted, seeking to prohibit the respondents, their agents and servants from using or caused to be used (sic) 12-bore pellet gun or of any other bore and cartridge against any group of people including protesters in the state.
While the lawyers' body seeks prosecution against all officers who took the decision of using the pellet guns at the protesters and non-protesters after July 8, it contends: "Those who actually fired the pellet guns be prosecuted and cases be directed to be registered against them for causing unlawful bodily injury and deprivation of eye-sight."
"More than 4000 people have so far been injured, more than 50 persons killed and 100 persons have been blinded," the Bar said, adding: "Even the people who have right to protest peacefully have been deprived to protest peacefully or to mourn the deaths of those killed."
"It is the use of this gun and the cartridge containing 500 to 600 metallic pellets which has resulted in the injury of 4000 people and blinding of more than 100, including children, women and adults," the PIL reads. "Pellets loaded with led once fired disperse in huge numbers and do not follow a definite path and go inside the eye and cause multiple damage to all its parts."
"Force should be used where it is absolutely necessary. It should be minimum and proportional to the situation and its use should be discontinued as soon as the danger to life and property subsides," the Bar has pleaded. "The Police is urged to use method of persuasion, advice and warning. However if the use of force becomes unavoidable then only the irreducible minimum force is required in the circumstances should be used."
"It is also provided that only executive magistrate or an officer in charge of the police station can order the use of force, Even after the orders of Magistrate, every police officer is to use as little force and to do (sic) as little injury to person and property as may be required," the Bar has stated.
"Every State is required to observe and notify Standard Operating Procedures while dealing with protesting crowd control. The state police has not adopted any crowd control procedures."
The Bar also seeks compensation to all those persons whose names are mentioned in the petition as well as those whose particulars will come to the notice of the court during the hearing of the PIL.
"The compensation be determined in the context of violation of Article 21 of the Constitution as these persons have either been deprived of their eyesight and or have suffered bodily injury, trauma, agony and mental pain," states the Bar.
It said Director SKIMS, Principal SKIMS Medical College Bemina, Director Health Services Kashmir and Medical Superintendent SMHS hospital be directed to furnish details of all those persons who reported there or in hospitals under their jurisdiction on account of pellet injuries and treatment provided to them.
"The Chief Secretary be directed to furnish report on circumstances and the time the decision to refer pellet injury patients outside the state was taken," the Bar pleads.
The respondents, the lawyers' body said, be directed to bring competent and well-trained surgeons from outside the state to provide treatment to those, who are not willing to go outside for treatment or have no means for meeting the expenses of such treatment inside or outside the state.
"The court may also determine the negligence if any caused by any authority of the state in dealing with pellet injury patients," the PIL said.