SC to pass order on legality of SPOs

New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce, Tuesday, its order on the legality of appointing tribals as Special Police Officers (SPOs) and arming them by Chhattisgarh government to counter Maoists in the state.

A bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar had last heard the matter on May 4 when the state government justified the appointment of SPOs saying they have excelled in performing police duties.

Chhattisgarh government had said that in anti-Maoist operations SPOs are of immense help in their role as guide, translators, spotters and on certain occasions they have saved the lives of regular security personnel while preventing more than dozen Maoist attacks on relief camps and helped security forces in anti-Naxal operations.

However, the court was of the view that arming tribals would lead to a "dangerous" situation if they turned against the state. The court had also questioned the training programme of the SPOs.

"You are playing with the so called SPOs. What will happen if they turn against the state. God save this country," the bench had said during the last hearing.

The issue of SPOs has arisen during the hearing of a petition against existence of Salwa Judum (vigilante groups) in Naxal-hit regions of the state to fight Maoists. The petition was filed by sociologist Nandini Sundar, historian Ramachandra Guha, former bureaucrat E A S Sarma and others seeking a direction to the state government to refrain from allegedly supporting Salwa Judum.

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