New Delhi, Aug 3 : The Centre will in the next few days decide if it will seek a review of the recent Supreme Court ruling on disbanding Salwa Judum and disarming tribals deployed as Special Police Officers (SPOs) in operations against Maoists, Home Minister P Chidambaram said today.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Chidambaram said his ministry, in consultation with the Law Ministry, is examining directions to the central government in the apex court ruling on Salwa Judum. He said the “very elaborate” Supreme Court ruling gave directions on where SPOs can be engaged and where they cannot. The court also gave directions to Chhattisgarh government as well as the Centre.
“This judgment has far reaching implications. We have to approach this matter with due caution and care,” he said. Asked if central government has decided to seek a review of the decision, he said, “We will take a decision (on it) in the next few days.”
The Chhattisgarh government has promulgated an ordinance to absorb the SPOs posted in Maoist areas into the regular police force. The Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Armed Police Force Ordinance, 2011 “is within the legislative powers of the State of Chhattisgarh,” the Minister said.
The ordinance dealt with one part of the judgment and the larger issue raised was under consideration of the Home Ministry.
“A direction has also been given by the Supreme Court to the central government to cease and desist, forthwith, from using any of its funds in supporting, directly or indirectly, the recruitment of SPOs by the state governments for operations against the naxalites,” he said.
“Government of India is examining those directions (to the central government) in consultation with Law Ministry,” Chidambaram said.
The Home Minister said SPOs are engaged in nine states, including Jammu and Kashmir, under a long-standing arrangement.
The court had on July 5 directed Chhattisgarh government to immediately cease and desist from using SPOs against naxalite activities in the state and recall all firearms issued to them.
“I am sure authorities or agencies who have been issued directions will carry out those directions,” he said. The Chhattisgarh ordinance provides for raising an auxiliary armed police force battalion to absorb the SPOs in the regular force. Chhattisgarh has roughly 5,000 SPOs.
The Supreme Court has held the appointment of SPOs by the state of Chhattisgarh to perform any of the duties of regular police officers, other then helping people in relief measures during the disaster situations and facilitating orderly movement of people and vehicles to control and regulate traffic, to be unconstitutional.
Chidambaram said Rs 2,500 crore was allocated for development of Naxal-violence affected districts in 2010-11 and Rs 3000 crore in 2011-11. “In all the affected districts, a very large number of works have been taken up and completed.” PTI