Jammu and Kashmir High Court refused to ban the use of pellet guns in the valley for crowd control during protests. The PIL filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association also asked to prosecute the security officials responsible for using pellet guns during the agitation of 2016 in Jammu and Kashmir.
The use of force is 'inevitable' as long as there is violence by 'unruly mobs', ruled the J&K High Court Bench on Wednesday. A bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey dismissing the PIL said, "It is manifest that so long as there is violence by unruly mobs, the use of force is inevitable."
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court further observed, "What kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time or in a given situation or place, has to be decided by the persons in charge of the place where the attack is happening." "This court in the writ jurisdiction, without any finding rendered by a competent forum/authority, cannot decide whether the use of force in a particular incident is excessive or not," it added.
Speaking of persecuting those responsible for the use of pellets, the Court said, "The same cannot be considered in the writ petition as no findings of the use of excessive force, violating the guidelines issued in the SOP, have been recorded by any fact-finding authority. Hence the persons alleging use of excessive force, due to which death or injury has occurred, can very well approach the appropriate forum to establish the same and seek redressal."
The PIL was filed back in 2016, in the wake of relentless unrest in the Kashmir after the assassination of Hizbul Mujahideen's Burhan Wani, who was once a poster boy for militancy in the valley. Subsequently, the plea was dismissed by the High Court in September 2016, which was then challenged by the lawyers' body before the Supreme Court.
In December 2016, the top court ordered that the use of pellet guns should not be 'indiscriminate' for curbing crowd and protests in the valley and that it should be reported only after a "proper application of mind" by the concerned authorities. The Supreme Court in 2019 again referred the case back to the high court. The Home Ministry describes pellet guns as 'non-lethal' crowd-control measures, that are used to quell violent protests in the Kashmir valley. As per official data, 1,725 people sustained pellet injuries during the agitation that occurred after the death of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.