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“Bar should remain aloof from popular movement”, Supreme Court in J&K pellet guns case

Murali Krishnan

The Bench was in a mood to advise; whether the Bar lapped it up or not remains to be seen. In the case concerning use of pellet guns in Kashmir, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court chose to remind the Bar of its duty.

Justice DY Chandrachud remarked,

“Bar should remain aloof from popular movement and Establishment. If it becomes part of the movement it will lose its relevance as it becomes one with the movement. If it becomes part of the Establishment, then again it becomes irrelevant for the same reason.”

These remarks were made after the counsel for the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association took objection to the submissions made by the central government regarding the Standard Operating Procedure and use of pellet guns in the valley.

The Centre today submitted a new Standard Operating Procedure. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that pellet guns is one of the last resorts used by armed forces in situations of violence. He said,

“Only when the mob is very close and virtually on top of us that pellet guns are used, it is graded sixth in the actions to be resorted to.”

He also said that what happens in Kashmir does not qualify as a peaceful protest or dharna.

Counsel for petitioner objected to Rohatgi’s submissions, stating that it painted a bad picture of the people of the state. He said,

“Are we at war with those people? We are not.”

It was then that the Bench proceeded to remind the Bar of its duty not to take sides with either the establishment or the movement.

The Court has now granted time to the Bar Association to file an affidavit to bring out the “actual position” so as to assist the Court. The case will be taken up again on April 28.

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