SHILLONG, Nov 3 - Unabated killings, abductions and threats to the Chief Justice and Judges have compelled the Meghalaya High Court to ask New Delhi to consider invoking the Armed Force (Special Powers) Act and deploying the Army in the Garo Hills region.
The full Bench of the Court, comprising Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh, Justice TNK Singh and Justice SR Sen, passed the order on Monday after considering the affidavits filed by the State and Central governments to bring in normalcy in the Garo Hills region. The Court said there were 87 abductions from January this year alone and some were killed by the abductors, including an Intelligence Officer of the Central Government.
Incidentally, the Bench said the Chief Justice and other Judges have received anonymous threat letters. �Even the Chief Justice and Judges of the High Court are also getting veiled threats that they would have to face the consequence after their retirement,� the bench said. It, however, did not reveal the identities of persons of organisations threatening them.
The Central Government, in its affidavit, which the High Court has sought, has stated that law-and-order is a State subject and that the Centre can only assist the State Governments in maintaining law and order. The Centre also pointed out that substantial financial assistance and deployment of Central para-military forces has been provided to the State Government.
As for financial assistance, the Central Government said, besides specific funds directed specially for modernisation of police forces, security-related expenditure, crime and criminal tracking network and system, the State Government�s share of Central Taxes has also gone up substantially.
It further pointed out that due to the proactive strategies of State Government of Tripura, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, with assistance from the Centre, militancy and Maoists were contained in these States.
After considering the points presented by the Centre, the High Court ruled that despite a heavy allocation of funds by the Central Government to upgrade and modernize the police force, kidnapping and killings has continued and �the Court, as the protector of civil liberties of citizens, cannot remain a mute spectator and shy away from its constitutional obligations�.
The Bench said, �We have no option but to direct the Central Government to consider the use of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, in the Garo Hills area and deployment of armed and para-military forces to control the situation,� the bench said.