Srinagar: The J&K high court on Tuesday issued a notice calling for a response from the state government as well as from the Government of India through secretary, home affairs, on a petition filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association. The petition has sought a ban on the use of pellet guns as a means of crowd control in the state.
The notice, to be answered by August 17, was issued by a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey after hearing senior advocate Zaffar A Shah. The Bar Association filed the PIL through its executive member and former general secretary Mohammad Ashraf Bhat.
“The use of pellet cartridges containing 500-600 metallic pieces at unarmed protesting youth is direct infringement of provisions of the Constitution, in particular Article 21 (which provides right to life),” the lawyers’ body said, seeking the court’s directive to prohibit use of 12-bore pellet gun or of any other bore and cartridge.
The court has also sought the response of the director-general of police, directors-general of the CRPF and BSF, all deputy commissioners, SSPs, director of SKIMS and director of health, medical superintendents of SMHS and the Bone and Joints Hospital, and the Principal of SKIMS medical college in Bemina.
The Bar Association also sought prosecution of all the officers who ordered the use of pellet guns and those who fired them.
“Those who actually fired the pellet guns should be prosecuted. Cases should be directed to be registered against them for causing unlawful bodily injury, deprivation of eyesight, etc,” the lawyers’ body petitioned.
Nearly 3,000 people have suffered injuries in the past three weeks of which pellets have been the major cause. The majority of pellet-injured people have suffered damage to their eyes.
The lawyers’ body has also sought a direction to the government to compensate injured persons, whose names have been mentioned in the petition, as well as those whose names will come to the notice of court during the hearing of the PIL.
“The compensation should be determined in the context of violation of Article 21 of the Constitution as these persons have either been deprived of their eye sight or have suffered bodily injury, trauma, agony,” the Bar said.
The Bar Association has also sought directions to the director of SKIMS, principal of SKIMS medical college, director of health services, and medical superintendent of SMHS hospital to furnish details of all persons who reported with pellet injuries to SKIMS and SMHS hospital, district hospitals, sub-district hospitals, and primary health centres.
“The chief secretary should be directed to furnish report as to the circumstances and the time taken for the decision to refer pellet-injured patients to outside the state,” the lawyers’ body petitioned the court.
Four pellet-injured patients — Insha Mushtaq of Shopian, Junaid Ahmad of Qazigund, Asif Ahmad Sheikh and Firdous Ahmad Dar of Sopore — were referred to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
“The respondents should be directed to bring competent 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 Bar Association petitioned.
It has also urged the court to determine the negligence, if any, caused by any authority of the state in dealing with pellet-injured patients.