Supreme Court Turns Down Plea by Centre, Chhattisgarh Govt to Adjourn 'Adivasi Militia' Case Over Upcoming Polls
The Court had struck down as 'unconstitutional' the practice of arming local tribal youth as special police officers (SPOs) in order to fight the Maoists. Chhattisgarh had created and armed ragtag militias of tribals under its Salwa Judum campaign.
Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18.com
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday shot down a plea by the Centre and Chhattisgarh government to adjourn the hearing in a case relating to 'Salwa Judum' and fake encounter killings till the assembly elections are over in the state.
"We are not concerned with the elections," said a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur.
The Court said it will hear the lawyers for petitioner Nandini Sundar and others and that the state government and the Centre may get time to respond later.
Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni requested the bench to defer the hearing till the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh are over. Senior lawyer Soli Sorabjee also appeared on behalf of the state government. The voting for assembly seats in Chhattisgarh will be conducted in two phases, on November 12 and 20.
"These are sensitive cases. Any observation or any order may have impact on the elections because one or the other political party may want to take advantage," said Mehta.
Nadkarni added that a hearing in this case may prejudice a political party right before the elections. "Please hear it on November 21, a day after the voting is over. This is what we are requesting," he said.
At this, the bench retorted: "Our decision in any case always prejudices one side or another. Going by your logic, we would not be able to decide any case."
Resisting this prayer, advocate Nithya Ramakrishnan, appearing for the PIL petitioners, contended that the issues pertained to rule of law and fundamental rights of the tribals and politics should not be allowed to come in the way.
"Our stand is not against the BJP or the Congress. Political party doesn't matter to us. We are here for human rights," she said.
Ramakrishnan then started arguing for the petitions and pointed out how human rights of tribals in the state are being violated despite the Supreme Court judgment in 2011 whereby the Salwa Judum policy of the state was junked.
The Court had struck down as 'unconstitutional' the practice of arming local tribal youth as special police officers (SPOs) in order to fight the Maoists.
The judgment asked the state government to immediately stop using SPOs, recall all firearms distributed to them, desist from funding the recruitment of any other vigilante groups, ensure the filing of FIRs into criminal activities committed by them and, offer protection to those who need.
The case is now pending for ensuring compliance with its order, besides examining a plea for action against some personnel in the security forces.
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