HC dismisses PIL seeking compensation for 2016 pellet victims

‘State has fulfilled its obligation; violent mobs had attacked security forces’

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday dismissed the J&K High Court Bar Association’s petition seeking compensation to those injured by pellets in the year 2016.
The court held that if a protest is not peaceful and if security forces are attacked by huge and violent mobs, they have to necessarily use force in their self-defence and for protecting public property.
The bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur recorded in the order that so far as the constitutional tort is concerned, the State has fulfilled its obligation, inasmuch as they have made ex-gratia payments to most of the injured persons and with respect to the remaining it is categorically stated that their cases shall be decided in tune with the Government policy in due course of time.
The court held that in the case of the Bar Association’s PIL, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the court cannot grant relief to the satisfaction of every such individual allegedly injured in police action, especially so when there is a finding recorded by the Court in its order dated 21 September, 2016, that almost every day, in the guise of protests, the security personnel, their camps, and police stations were targeted by unruly crowds.
“Therefore, strictly speaking, it is not a case where compensation is being sought or claimed for wrong doing of any security force personnel, or for violating any fundamental right of any citizen by them, but for discharge of public duty by such security force personnel who were being attacked by violent mobs during the relevant period. In any case, since the Government has discharged its obligation, nothing more needs to be done in this PIL,” the court recorded.
Earlier, the J&K High Court Bar Association in the year 2016 had filed a public-interest litigation (PIL) seeking ban on use of pellet guns as a means of crowd control and pleading that the personnel who actually fired the pellet guns be prosecuted.
The lawyers’ association had also prayed for compensation, rehabilitation, and medical treatment to the victims.
The High Court on 26 September 2016 had declined to ban pellet guns and to prosecute personnel involved in the firing. The court had mentioned that as long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable.
It had recorded that what kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time or in a given situation/ place, has to be decided by the persons in charge of the place where the attack is happening. It had said that the court cannot decide whether the use of force in particular incident is excessive or not.
The Bar Association later challenged the High Court verdict before the Supreme Court and the matter for now is pending there for relief sought by the petitioner association seeking complete ban on usage of pellet guns and punishment to the personnel who were involved in pellet firing. In early 2018, the Supreme Court asked the J&K High court to decide on the reliefs sought for compensation, rehabilitation and medical treatment of the victims within six weeks.
But after passing of almost two years, the High Court today dismissed the petition by recording that since the government has discharged its obligation, nothing remains in this PIL.

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