Law

Hurriyat, Kashmiri Separatists are Not ‘Terrorists’, Says Supreme Court

“What is to be done for the security of the nation is best left to the executive and the army,” the court said, dismissing a petition seeking an end to official security and other expenditure for ‘separatist’ leaders.

Supreme Court of India. Credit: Shome Basu

Supreme Court of India. Credit: Shome Basu

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday took exception to a petitioner describing leaders of Hurriyat Conference in Kashmir as “terrorists” and refused to entertain the public interest litigation he had filed seeking the scrapping of any Central funds and security provided to them.

Dismissing the petition filed by advocate M.L, Sharma, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit said “it is not a judicially manageable” issue for the courts, which should refrain from entertaining the matter.

In a brief order, the bench said, “We are of the considered opinion that the grant of funds to the state of Jammu and Kashmir for  the purposes of security or otherwise is within the exclusive domain of the central government. In a matter like this, we are of the considered opinion that a public interest litigation does not deserve to be entertained and, therefore, we are not inclined to interfere. That apart, needless to emphasise, it is not a judicially manageable proceeding and the court should refrain from entering into the said area.”

Sharma had argued that separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir are terrorists and any funding taking place should be stopped.

Justice Misra shot back and said, “Please don’t call anybody by that name, unless the person is convicted. Judiciary cannot examine what funds are given to whom.”

When Sharma argued that the PIL was in the  national interest, Justice Misra told the petitioner that it was he who was calling the beneficiaries ‘separatists’, not the government.

Sharma had questioned the state and central governments spending ‘huge’ amounts on separatist leaders by meeting their travel and medical expenses and providing security cover to them. He also sought criminal proceedings against the authorities for promoting terrorism and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He sought a CBI probe into the reported release of Rs 950 crore to such ‘anti-national persons’ by the Centre and the state government in the past five years.  The government had spent Rs 21 crore on their stay in luxury hotels and Rs 26.43 crore on their travel, he said citing official data and media reports.

He also told the court that the funds sanctioned for the separatists carrying out an anti-India campaign in the valley was not approved by parliament.

The bench told the petitioner that it is the centre and the army, and not the Supreme Court, which were best qualified to decide on matters of national security and on threat perceptions to the country. “What is to be done for the security of the nation is best left to the executive and the army,” it said. “Let it be noted that in issues like these, the courts have a minimum role. These are nationally sensitive issues, for they belong to the arena of the security of the nation.”