The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday refused to ban the use of pump action guns by security forces in the region, The Tribune reported.

A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Dhiraj Singh Thakur dismissed the petition filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association in 2016, seeking a ban on the use of pump action guns.

“It is manifest that so long as there is violence by unruly mobs, the use of force is inevitable,” the bench said. “What kind of force has to be used at a relevant point of time or in a given situation and place has to be decided by the persons in charge of the place where the attack is happening.”

The bench added that without any finding by a competent authority, it cannot decide whether the use of force in a particular incident is excessive or not.

“Having regard to the ground situation prevailing as of now, and the fact that the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has already constituted a committee of experts for exploring an alternative to pellet guns, we are not inclined to prohibit the use of pellet guns in rare and extreme situations,” the court said while dismissing the petition.

The petition to ban pump action guns was filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association after huge protests broke out in Kashmir following militant Burhan Wani’s killing in 2016.

Pump action guns have been used by security forces to disperse protestors and stone pelters in Jammu and Kashmir. In several instances, protestors have been seriously injured or blinded by pellets. A 19 month-old child had suffered severe eye injuries after being hit by a pump action gun in 2018 when clashes broke out between protestors and security forces following an encounter in South Kashmir.

In November, the government said that pump action guns have been used with abundant caution since August 5, when it scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. It said that pump action guns were only used while dealing with severe law and order problems or where civilian lives were under threat.