New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its disapproval of the constitution of the ‘Salwa Judum’ (self-defence groups) by the Chhattisgarh government and giving them arms to tackle the naxal menace.
Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, heading a two-Judge Bench, asked Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam: “How can the State give arms to some persons? The State will be abetting in a crime if these private persons kill others.”
The Bench that included Justice Aftab Alam was hearing a petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Ramachandra Guha and E.A.S. Sarma challenging the setting up of Salwa Judum. The petitioners alleged that in the guise of countering the naxal movement, the ‘Salwa Judum’ was indulging in killings and committing atrocities against tribals.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Ashok Desai along with T.R. Andhyarujina submitted that about 47,000 people were kept in camps in villages against their wishes. Mr. Desai submitted that these self-defence groups had killed many innocent people.
He said the National Commission for the Protection of Children Rights had visited the camps and submitted a report. The Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Veerappa Moily, had recommended the disbanding of Salwa Judum. He wanted the court to set up a committee to visit the camps .
Legal Correspondent , The Hindu
NEW DELHI: The Chhattisgarh government on Monday defended in the Supreme Court the formation of the ‘Salwa Judum’ (self-defence groups) and giving them arms.
Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, who formed a Bench alongwith Justice Aftab Alam, was hearing a petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Ramachandra Guha and E.A.S. Sarma.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam said the Institute of Criminology had been asked to conduct an investigation and once the report was filed, the perception of the court about the ‘Salwa Judum’ might change. When naxalites shot dead people the villagers asked for protection and Salwa Judum was meant only for that purpose.
The CJI told the ASG: “It [naxal] is basically a law and order problem. It is not a question of granting protection. All this will not justify your action. Giving arms to private persons is illegal. .”
Express news service
NEW DELHI, RAIPUR, MARCH 31
The Salwa Judum movement in Chhattisgarh wherein civilians, allegedly armed by the state, counter Naxalites has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court which today observed: “You (the state) cannot give arms to somebody and allow him to kill.”
Hearing two petitions seeking a direction to the state government to refrain from allegedly supporting and encouraging the Salwa Judum, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Aftab Alam said: “It is a question of law and order. You cannot give arms to somebody (a civilian) and allow him to kill. You will be an abettor of the offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.”
The Bench said a neutral agency should inquire and assess whether people had joined Salwa Judum camps on their own.
The state government had earlier denied that Salwa Judum was a state-sponsored movement and said that action would be taken if any Judum activist violated the law.
The petitioners also alleged that conditions in the Judum camps were bad and people involved in the movement should be allowed to return to the forests in view of the approaching sowing season.
In Raipur, the Supreme Court observation was being interpreted as a setback to the Raman Singh government. Chhattisgarh Police employs SPOs, essentially tribal civilians who have been armed with .303 rifles, under the provisions of the Police Act which provides for engaging a person to assist security forces.
Police sources said that about 4,000 youth from Bastar have been employed by Chhattisgarh Police as SPOs in the five Naxal-affected districts of Bastar region. SPOs are paid an honorarium of Rs 1500 per month and are also given general training in handling of weapons, usually a .303 rifle, and manning roads in the area. Mostly tribal youth from villages near a police station are employed as SPOs.
Since the launch of Salwa Judum in June 2005, more than 800 people, including some 300 security personnel, have been killed by Naxalites. SPO deaths alone total 98 — one in 2005; 29 in 2006; 66 in 2007; and, two so far this year. There are 23 Salwa Judum camps in Bijapur and Dantewara districts of Bastar region where almost 50,000 tribals from over 600 villages have been settled.
Reacting to the Supreme Court observation, Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said his government was also of the view that giving arms to civilians was wrong. “However, as security forces are unfamiliar with the difficult terrain in Bastar ,they are forced to seek the help of local tribals. So the government has been forced to arm these civilians for self-defence,” he said.
The movement also has the support of Leader of Opposition Mahendra Karma of Congress who maintained it was a spontaneous movement. “Salwa Judum is the only way to successfully tackle the Maoist menace in the south Bastar region,” Karma said.
Human rights organisations have alleged that the civil militia employed as SPOs by the government are operating like mercenaries and criminals. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) president Rajinder Sail said human rights organisations had been saying all along what the SC observed today. “Salwa Judum is not a spontaneous campaign and it is not peaceful. We oppose any military solution that has tacit support of the state,” Sail said.
SC ready to hear plea for probe into Salwa Judum
Two PILs sought an independent inquiry into the alleged acts of violence by Salwa Judum, a government supported militia
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it was willing to hear an application seeking an independent inquiry into the alleged acts of violence by Salwa Judum, a government supported militia, formed for the purpose of combating Left extremism.
The permission was granted when a bench comprising Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan and justice Aftab Alam heard the two public interest litigations regarding Salwa Judum—one filed by Nandini Sundar, professor of the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, historian and writer Ramchandra Guha and E.A.S Sarma former secretary of the Union government and another by Kartam Joga , Dudhi Joga, both current elected representatives of the Dantewada district council in Chhattisgarh and former legislator Manish Kunjam. The date of the next hearing is 15 April.
New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Saying that law and order is the responsibility of the administration, the Supreme Court Monday ticked off the Chhattisgarh government for arming tribals to form a civil militia movement, Salwa Judum, to counter Maoist guerrillas. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Aftab Alam told the state government: “You cannot supply arms to the people and encourage them to take law into their own hands.”
The bench asked the state government to deploy more police, paramilitary forces and even the army to tackle the Maoists.
The terse observation by the bench came during the hearing of a petition filed by academicians Ramachandra Guha and Nandini Sundar.
The two alleged that in the name of fighting the Maoists, the government was arming Salwa Judum activists and encouraging them in the wanton killing of innocent tribals and villagers.
The petitioners contended that the Salwa Judum was basically “another name of state-sponsored terrorism in Chhattisgarh”.
They sought directions to the state government to refrain from supplying arms to the civil militia cadre and disband the movement.
The bench asked the petitioners to file another application seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the killings by the Salwa Judum. The matter was adjourned for further hearing on April 13.
New Delhi (PTI): “You cannot give arms to somebody and allow him to kill,” the Supreme Court said on Monday while taking a serious note of a petition alleging that the Chattisgarh government was allegedly arming civilians involved in “Salwa Judum” movement to fight naxals.
“It is a question of law and order. You (state government) cannot give arms to somebody (a civilian) and allow him to kill. You will be an abettor of the offence under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Aftab Alam said.
The Bench said a neutral agency should inquire and assess whether people had joined Judum camps on their own.
The Court’s remarks came during the hearing of two petitions seeking a direction to the state government to refrain from allegedly supporting and encouraging the “Salwa Judum,” a people’s movement to counter naxalism.
The state government had earlier denied that Judum was a state-sponsored movement and said that action shall be taken if any Judum activist transgresses the confines of the law.
The PILs also alleged that the condition in Judum camps was bad and people involved in the movement should be allowed to go back to the forests in view of the upcoming sowing season.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said he met officials of the Intelligence Bureau officials and concerned ministry on the issue. He said the government has asked the Director, National Institute of Criminology, to probe the ground situation in these camps.
He said if the report does not satisfy the court, the Centre would be open to further suggestions.
Giving arms to civilians illegal: SC
Monday, March 31, 2008 (New Delhi)
The Supreme Court has said that giving arms to civilians to fight the Naxals is illegal.
Though this was an observation, not an order, it is the first time that the apex court has questioned the establishment and existence of an armed civilian outfit.
The court’s statement strikes at the very basis of the Salwa Judum, a controversial people’s militia, backed by the Chhattisgarh government.
The court also wants an independent assessment of the Salwa Judum, which was set up in 2005. The Salwa Judum has come under intense criticism for its terror tactics.