Internal Disturbance

My Lord, Is the ‘internal disturbance’ in Manipur equivalent to a ‘war’?

In support of his contention that a war-like situation was and is prevailing in Manipur, the Learned Attorney General submitted that under Section 121 of the IPC ‘war’ is not necessarily conventional warfare between two nations and even organizing and joining an insurrection against the Government of India is a form of war. The militants in Manipur were creating a situation of an insurrection and this was resulting in a war-like situation in Manipur. Alternatively, the victims were members of banned organizations under the UAPA and were provoking cession or secession from India and were therefore ‘enemy’.

Animus to wage a war or any other similar activity is important before a non-conventional war or war-like situation can be said to exist. Every act of violence, even though it may be directed against the armed forces or public officials would not lead to an inference that a war is going on or that war-like conditions are prevailing. Similarly, sporadic but organized killings by militants and ambushes would not lead to a conclusion of the existence of a war or war-like conditions. Were such a blanket proposition accepted, it would reflect poorly on our armed forces that they are unable to effectively tackle a war-like situation for the last almost six decades. It would also reflect poorly on the Union of India that it is unable to resort to available constitutional provisions and measures to bring a war-like situation under control for almost six decades. We cannot be expected to cast or even countenance any such aspersions on our armed forces or the Union of India. All that we can and do say is that in such a situation, our Constitution recognizes only an internal disturbance, which is what the situation in Manipur is and that ought to be dealt with by the civil administration with the services of the armed forces that are available in aid of the civil power.

The submission of the learned Attorney General is nothing but a play on words and we reject it and hold that an internal disturbance is not equivalent to or akin to a war-like situation and proceed on the basis that there is no war or war-like situation in Manipur but only an internal disturbance, within the meaning of that expression in the Constitution – nothing more and nothing less.

Hon’ble Justice Madan B. Lokur, Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 129 of 2012].

Hon’ble Justice Madan B. Lokur was the Attorney General’s senior at school (Indu Bhan, Legal Eagles, pg. 38). Should that fact necessitate a recusal in a future matter? Lokur J. shall retire on the penultimate day of 2018.

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