SC agrees to hear plea seeking protection of human rights of forces, issues notices to Centre, J&K govt

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday agreed to examine a plea seeking protection of human rights of security force personnel, who come under attack by mobs while performing their duties. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna also issued notices to the Union of India, Ministry of Defence, Jammu and Kashmir and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the plea filed by 19-year-old Preeti Kedar Gokhale and 20-year-old Kajal Mishra.

The petitioners said they are “greatly disturbed by the incidents of unruly and disruptive mobs” pelting stones at soldiers and Army convoys in Jammu and Kashmir. The plea has sought formulation of a policy to curb human rights violations of security force personnel who come under attack by mobs while performing duties.

The petitioners said they have approached the apex court as they were aggrieved and dissatisfied with the inaction of the respondents in addressing various acts of human right violations of Army personnel, resulting in obstruction in the discharge of their duties, as well as endangers their safety and security at the place of their deployment. The petitioners are daughters of Army officials — one serving and another retired.

“The petitioners are further disturbed by the troops in the Indian Army having to suffer the ire of stone pelters, while they are discharging their duty of maintaining peace and security in the area of their deployment,” the plea has said.

Referring to FIRs being lodged against Army personnel, the plea said cases are being lodged if action was taken against the stone pelters in retaliation or self-defence.

“The petitioners have no grievance to any complaint/FIR being filed against any Armed force personnel for any act done by them which amounts to any criminal offence under the law for the time being in force. However, they are very much aggrieved by the fact that no similar action is taken against the perpetrators of violence,” it said.

The petition termed as shocking a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister’s declaration in the legislative assembly that as many as 9,760 FIRs registered against stone pelters would be withdrawn as they were first-time offenders.

“It is pertinent to note that firstly, the state is not entitled to withdraw an FIR, once registered against a person, without following the due process of the law as provided in the CrPC/RPC; secondly, the complainant or the victim of the offence is entitled to prosecute the perpetrator of a crime against him,” it said.

The petition added that depriving the armed forces personnel of their right to prosecute a person who has committed an offence against them is a violation of their fundamental right to life and liberty, including the right to legal recourse.

“Further, armed forces personnel are also deprived of their basic human rights of defending themselves against assault and safeguarding their life and limb,” it said.

The petition also said that the petitioners had lodged a complaint of human rights violation with the NHRC, citing specific instances, but the commission transferred the complaint to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) of Jammu and Kashmir on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction.

The petitioners also sought setting aside of the NHRC order dated January 4 transferring the representation to the SHRC and a direction to complete the probe of human rights violations of armed forces personnel.

“There is no mechanism put in place by the Centre or the state to deal with such brazen acts of human rights violation of the forces. The armed forces personnel is deployed in these disturbed areas by orders of the respondents to discharge their duties. As such, it is necessary that the respondent No. 1 (Centre) puts in place a mechanism to deal with and enforce the security of its forces,” the plea added.

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