SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government today told the High Court that enforcing law and order is the duty of the State and the court "not being an expert" cannot recommend as to how such situations have to be handled.
"It is constitutional and legal duty of the State to maintain law and order. As to what method is required to be given effect (to) in order to control law and order has to be left to the State," it said. The government said that the court cannot guide the law enforcing agencies to act in a particular way or manner.
"The court being not an expert does not recommend as to how the law and order situations are to be controlled," it said in its response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association seeking ban on the use of pellet guns.
The fundamental rights do not provide for a license to the people to take law into their own hands, it said. "It is only a non-violent protest march, which is a fundamental right of person. Even such a right is subject to reasonable restriction in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of nation," it said.
The government said the pellet gun is a modern method to deal with crowd control, particularly agitating mobs who resort to heavy stone pelting, rioting, arson, at the instigation of militants and separatists with the intention of causing loss of life of peace-loving citizens, police personnel and those of security forces, besides damaging public and private property.
"In the aftermath of the killing of a terrorist on July 8, 2016, the entire Kashmir Valley in particular was rocked by unpleasant events in which thousands of people resorted to violent agitations and attempted to cause loss to the life of police/security forces personnel and that of peace-loving citizens, besides causing enormous damage to the public and private property.
"More than 3700 police and security forces personnel (3777 to be precise, till August 30, 2016) have also sustained injuries during the attacks on them by the crowd by using stones and sharp-edged weapons and petrol bombs," the government said in its response. It said since the unrest broke out on July 9, a total of 1522 incidents of violence have been reported across Kashmir till August 30, which has resulted in the loss of 58 lives, including those of two police personnel. "During the same period, a total number of 31 police stations/police posts, two courts, 164 ambulances and 51 other
establishments have been damaged. "For the acts of violence during the same period, as many as 1431 FIRs have been registered, 813 persons accused of commission of offences under these FIRs have been arrested and 409 such persons have been detained or bound down by taking bonds under CrPC," it said.
The government said as an expert committee has been constituted to explore the alternatives to pellet guns, it is a "settled legal position" that the courts have to show deference and consideration to the recommendations of an expert committee.
"In this view of the matter as an expert committee is seized of the matter and having regard to the fact that the issue of use of pellet gun comes within the realm of maintaining law and order situation, the writ petition merits dismissal," the government said.
Referring to the killing of protestors, the government said the agitators are mostly in kneeling position to pick stones and there is every chance that they will be hit above the waistline.
"As the protesters and the members of the agitating mobs are mostly bent or in kneeling position so as to pick up the stones which they hurl and pelt upon the police personnel and in this position, there is every chance that such protesters would be hit above the waist line," it said. The government said the Standard Operative Procedure (SOP) is being followed in its totality while dealing with the protesters in the Valley. "Maintenance of law and order and establishment of the peace is the prime concern of the government and for the said purpose even use of proportionate force is permitted by the law of the land.
"It is in this context that the proportionate force is to be and is being used for the purpose of maintenance of law and order and establishment of peace," it said.