Srinagar: The High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to file its response, with supporting material, on the issue of providing compensation and medical treatment to pellet victims. The court directed Additional Advocate General BA Dar to file the response by June 1, 2018, on three issues: pertaining to investigation, compensation, and medical treatment of pellet victims.
Senior advocate Mian Qayoom, representing the petitioners, submitted before the court that since the year 2010 — when pellet shotguns were introduced in Kashmir for crowd control — to the present year, the shotgun has caused grievous sufferings across Kashmir, blinding several young men and women, and even the elderly suffering bodily damages.
“It is very important to know what the government has done for the victims of this deadly pellet gun,” he said.
Qayoom pointed out that the government has promised compensation, jobs and better medical facilities to these victims. What has happened to these promises, he asked. “Have they provided compensation to any pellet victims? The response needs to be filed before this court,” he said.
He further submitted that the pellet victims have formed an association to demand their rights. He asked that when a healthy person has been disabled for the rest of his/her life, what sort of remedy should be provided to him/her?
Concluding his arguments, he said that the government should come and say before this court what they have done for the rehabilitation of pellet victims.
After hearing the arguments, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Sanjeev Kumar remarked that rehabilitation of victims is needed and the government must file its response as to what steps have been taken for rehabilitation of the victims.
“So, direction is passed to the government to file response with supporting material,” the court ordered.
On December 14, 2016, the Supreme Court had said that pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir, and that they should be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.
A bench headed by the then Chief Justice TS Thakur had issued notices to the Government of India and to J&K government seeking their replies on a plea alleging “excessive” use of pellet guns in the state.
The top court had also sought assistance of the Attorney General on the issue and asked him to submit a copy of the report submitted by the Expert Committee constituted for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.
The Supreme Court had passed these directions after hearing an appeal filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association against the J&K High Court’s refusal to order a ban on the use of pellet guns. On September 22, 2016, the J&K High Court had rejected the Bar Association’s plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the grounds that the GoI had already constituted a committee of experts through a memorandum dated July 26, 2016, for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.
The High Court had disposed of the petition, saying that no further direction was required since the matter was being looked at by the GoI.
The Bar Association challenged the order, contending that the High Court should not have disposed the petition and instead waited or called for the report of the expert committee. The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.