Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh on Saturday said the state government will file a review petition in the Supreme Court against its direction to disarm special police officers and denied that minors were employed as SPOs.
"We will file a review petition against the Supreme Court order on Special Police Officers. We are consulting experts on the issue. I met (senior lawyer) Harish Salve and Arun Jaitley. We will 100% go for a review petition," Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
However, he clarified that the Supreme Court's direction on disarming SPOs, providing them facilities for education and employment and ensuring their security were being looked into by the Chhattisgarh government.
"We will follow the Supreme Court orders. There are around 5,000 SPOs in Chhattisgarh. We are making all efforts to implement the orders within six weeks as ordered by the Supreme Court. The order for their proper training, education and employment are being worked upon," Singh said.
On the Supreme Court's observation that minors have also been employed as SPOs in the state, Singh said, "No, this is incorrect. No minors have been employed as SPOs. Our SPOs are very young men but they are not minors."
Singh said Chhattisgarh is not the only state to have SPOs, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and many others have vigilante groups.
"We welcome the debate that has started on the issue of SPOs. This is good. There are about 40,000 to 50,000 SPOs in the country. On one hand there is the court order, on the other we have our view. I can assure that we will find a good solution to it," Singh said.
When asked to comment on Naxal threat to SPOs if they are disarmed, Singh said, "The security of the SPOs is the responsibility of the state. We will definitely present this view in the court."
On the issue of providing employment to people in Naxal-affected regions, he said, "I had a meeting with rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and discussed the problems in implementing MNREGA in Naxal-hit districts... There are no banks and post offices in these areas and people have to travel up to 50-60 Km to get their payments."
Ramesh will soon visit the state to get a first-hand feel of the problem, he said.
"I have also asked him (Ramesh) to provide amenities under Bharat Nirman Yojana in areas where the population is 500 and less, instead of the present criteria of 1,000," Singh said.