New Delhi: The deployment of armed tribals as
Special Police Officers (SPOs) to counter naxals was like
outsourcing the constitutional duty of the state, the Supreme
Court today said and disapproved of the policy virtually aimed
at dividing the society.
"Some sort of outsourcing of constitutional duty has been
done," a bench comprising justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S
Nijjar said about the policy of creating SPOs by the Centre
and Chhattisgarh government.
The bench, which has been perturbed by the policy of
arming the civilians as SPOs, reserved its order on its
legality and constitutional validity.
During the hearing, the bench said creating SPOs and
supporting anti-Naxal vigilante groups like Salwa Judum would
lead to dividing the society and will have wide and dangerous
"We have been saying there would be problem. Don`t divide
the society like Naxalites, anti-Naxalites, SPOs or
sympathiser of Maoists or any other way," the bench said.
The affidavits of the Centre and Chhattisgarh government
supported the creation of SPOs and both maintained that SPOs
proved their mettle in Punjab during the days of terrorism.
However, the bench said "what happened in Punjab, we
are not vetoing here".
The Bench was also critical of the submission of the
state government that those who are opposing the SPOs are
sympathisers of Maoists.
"No Maoist is before us. If Chhattisgarh government says
that petitioners are sympathisers of Maoists, then this could
have serious ramification," it said.
However, the bench also said "if somebody else is
operating through them, it is also a serious matter".
The bench said everybody has a right to approach the
court and merely on the suspicion that a person is a Naxalite
or belongs to a banned outfit his personal life and liberty
cannot be tampled with.
"Suppose a person is a suspected Naxalite and is coming
to the court with some grievances, he cannot be shot dead from
the point blank range near the gate. Even if he is declared a
Maoist, can his rights under Article 21 be suspended"? the
The court was hearing a petition against the existence
of Salwa Judum in Naxal-hit regions of the state to fight the
The petition was filed by sociologist Nandini Sundar,
historian Ramchandra Guha, former bureaucrat E A S Sarma and
others seeking a direction to the state government to refrain
from allegedly supporting Salwa Judum.
Chhattisgarh government has maintained that Salwa Judum
is a dying movement.