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Centre, Chhattisgarh given final chance to file affidavits

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday gave a final opportunity to the Centre and the Chhattisgarh Government to file their response on the issue relating to Salwa Judum and harassment meted out to petitioners who espoused the cause of tribals.

A Bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar had on August 31 observed that the response filed by the Chhattisgarh Government was “wholly vague and indefinite” and had directed the State to file a proper comprehensive affidavit within six weeks on the present status of Salwa Judum and why it should not be disbanded; status of relief and rehabilitation; removal of security forces from schools and ashrams; progress on registration, investigation and trial in criminal offences and whether an independent monitoring committee could be set up to oversee these issues. The Centre was also asked to file its response on these points.

No response yet

During the resumed hearing on Friday, the Bench was informed that the response was yet to be filed.

As a last opportunity, the Court gave time till Thursday for filing the response and adjourned the hearing till then.

In their affidavit, petitioners Nandini Sundar and others brought to the notice of the Court that the Chhattisgarh Government had arrested one of the petitioners in a related petition, Kartam Joga, in a number of false cases.

Despite promising that they would facilitate the visit of the petitioners to Chhattisgarh, the petitioners were surrounded with SPOs and prevented from visiting villages. The Chief Secretary had written to the petitioners not to waste their time fighting what he had described as “the dreary law courts”.

The affidavit explained the poor conditions prevailing in camps. It said the camp residents had also written to the Court asking for an independent monitoring committee. “The conditions of people in villages in Chhattisgarh who are cut off from all services like health, education or PDS as well as that of Chhattisgarh IDPs in Andhra Pradesh are even worse. Some IDP families in Andhra Pradesh are suffering from fourth grade malnutrition. Schools have not been vacated by security forces and no FIRs have been filed regarding criminal offences committed by Salwa Judum or SPOs,” it was pointed out.

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