Security forces cannot solve every problem in Chhattisgarh: Court

Friday, January 7, 2011

NEW DELHI - The apex court Friday observed that sending security forces to Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh for dealing with every problem would not lead to a solution.

The court also wondered if there was no solution to the problem by which tribals displaced due to the Salwa Judum civil milita movement in the state could return to their villages and lead a safe and secure life.

“Can nothing be done despite the Solicitor General and such person (referring to senior counsel) being present,” said the apex court bench of Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar.

Then the court went on to ask: “For our guidance, could there be a broad consensus between three of you (the centre, Chhattisgarh government and the petitioners Prof. Nandini Sunder and others).”

The court then made the observation that sending security forces to tackle every problem would not lead to a solution.

The court observations came in the wake of unrelenting positions being taken by the contending parties, particularly the petitioner and the Chhattisgarh.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai appearing for the petitioner pleaded for an independent committee of experts to monitor the implementation of the integrated development plan for Maoist-hit areas approved by the centre. He said this committee consisting of sociologists, anthropologists, experts and senior government officials was free from political influences.

Desai opposed the state government’s suggestion that the existing committee headed by Chief Minister Raman Singh should be expanded to include independent people.

The senior counsel said that the chief minister was an open supporter of the Salwa Judum and had described it as a peoples’ movement.

Former chief justice of Delhi High Court and senior counsel Rajinder Sacchar described accepting the chief minister as head of the committee was like “an accused being asked to judge his guilt”.

Admitting that the tribals were caught in the cross fire of the Maoists, vigilante group and the security forces, senior counsel Harish Salve said that any direction that is thrust upon the administration would not succeed.

He said that adopting an adversarial approach with the administration will not succeed. “It (local administration) has to be brought on its feet,” the senior counsel pointed out.

Appearing for Chhattisgarh, Salve said that there would be no end if “you start distrusting the elected representatives”.

He said that extending an opportunity to the committee headed by the chief minister would amount to giving the system a fair chance to deliver. He said that eventually this committee would be working under the “watchful eyes of the centre and the Supreme Court.”

The Solicitor General (SG) Gopal Subramanium shared the position taken by Salve. The SG said that the committee headed by the chief minister had the administrative powers to execute its decisions.

The SG said that the centre had told the state government that security forces would not be lodged in the schools and ashrams and the education of the children would not be interrupted. He said that out of 31 schools, the security forces have vacated six schools.

The Solicitor General said that the high court could be asked to review the criminal cases where in the closure report has been filed. These are the cases involving the activists of Salwa Judum.

Desai described the central government’s action as “going two steps backwards”. The matter will come up for hearing on Tuesday.

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