"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reincarnation of Salwa Judum

It just took three weeks for the Chattisgarh government to package the old wine in new bottle. Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Armed Police Force Ordinance 2011 is ready to absorb the dismantled (?) Salwa Judum. Three weeks after Nandini Sundar judgment, the state has already found ways of bypassing the Supreme Court. On a closer look, court had not invalidated appointment of SPOs. It had not held Section 9 of the Chattisgarh Police Act unconstitutional nor was Section 23 held so. It said that SPOs appointed under Section 9 shall be used only for purposes mentioned in Section 23 (h) and (i). It also recorded its displeasure of the Policy of arming the tribals and pitting the poor against poor. The solution for the court in addressing the cause of the unrest is a shift from neo-liberal economic policy which the court identify as a race to the bottom.

State may definitely ask where is the prohibition. One then has to stretch and answer that 'though- may- not- be- the- letter- of- the- judgment -but -the -spirit- of- course …' Chattisgarh government but claims that it has addressed the concerns expressed in the judgment while formulating the new law (the draft law is not available in public domain), for example, enhancement of training period to 6 months. News item also suggest that the new auxiliary force would be placed somewhere between SPOs and Constabulary in relation to payment. Signal from the government seems to be clear, 'here we are with a new law according our policy prescriptions, challenge it for its constitutionality if you so wish'

This law would be despite the Supreme Court's observation that the policy of arming and using SPOs for combat duties run against constitutional prescriptions and therefore to be desisted.

The Government seemingly is yet to comprehend that it is not handing over of guns that solves the problem but handing out justice that will bring peace. Sadly the Paschim Banga government is also seemingly following the same flight plan in Jangalmahal.

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