HC to Omar Govt: We don’t have a judge for Yousuf death inquiry
SAC shuts eyes to ‘political corruption’; hearing stalled in anti-corruption court; Crime Branch investigating cheating; HC refuses to provide a judge
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Authoritative sources told Early Times that Registrar General of Jammu & Kashmir High Court, Mr J R Kotwal, today responded to a previous communication from the state Law Department, making it clear that a sitting judge of the High Court could not be made available for the proposed judicial commission of inquiry. According to sources, Mr Kotwal communicated to the state government, through Law Secretary Ghulam Hassan Tantary, that a sitting judge could not be provided because of an existing order from Supreme Court of India. It has been made clear that Supreme Court has barred Chief Justices of High Courts all over the country from sparing a sitting High Court judge for any judicial commission of inquiry.
Heavy workload and non-availability of judges are quoted as additional constraints. As against the sanctioned strength of 14 judges, J&K High Court has currently total of seven judges---two service judges and five from Bar. They include Chief Justice Ibrahim Fakkir Mohammad Khalifullah, who took oath on September 18th, 2011.
After a brief discussion on today’s development, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wrote a demi-official letter to the union Minister of Law and Justice, Mr Salman Khursheed, seeking his personal intervention. In the DO letter faxed today, and also carried manually by a special messenger, Chief Minister asked for a panel of three retired judges of Supreme Court of India. Sources said that one among the three would be picked up and appointed as Commission. Terms of reference, according to sources, would restrict the inquiry to the circumstances that led to the NC activist’s death 14 hours after he was allegedly tortured at the CM’s camp office, adjacent to his residence on
According to these sources, in-house allegations of political corruption leveled against the NC patriarch and union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, would not be investigated by the judicial commission.
Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has asked the Union Law Minister to suggest a name of a retired Judge of the Supreme Court for appointment as a Commission of Inquiry under the Jammu and Kashmir Commission of Inquiries Act, 1962; to conduct judicial enquiry in the matter of death of one Sayeed Mohammad Yousuf S/o Sayeed Ghulam Ahmed R/o Loktipora Bijbehara, Kashmir,
An official press release this evening said: “Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has asked the Union Law Minister to suggest a name of a retired Judge of the Supreme Court for appointment as a Commission of Inquiry under the Jammu and Kashmir Commission of Inquiries Act, 1962; to conduct judicial enquiry in the matter of death of one Sayeed Mohammad Yousuf S/o Sayeed Ghulam Ahmed R/o Loktipora Bijbehara, Kashmir. The Chief Minister wrote a letter to this effect to Union Law Minister after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court today conveyed its inability to spare the services of any sitting Judge of the High Court for conduct of the said enquiry.
Stressing on the urgency and the sensitivities involved in this matter, the Chief Minister has solicited early response in this matter to enable the State Government to proceed ahead with the constitution of the Commission at the earliest”.
Even as Chief Minister has immediately asserted and sought a panel of three retired judges of Supreme Court to emphasise that his government was keen to hold an independent judicial inquiry, critics have begun to question the competence the state Law Department. “Either they have no will to hold the inquiry or their Law Department is utterly incompetent. If they knew it that High Court could not spare a judge in view of the Supreme Court imbargo, why did they send a requisition and thus wasted a full month?”, a senior advocate of J&K High Court asked. According to him, if the Law Department had no such knowledge, it had no business to be in place. “They are, in fact, cracking jokes with the people of this state”, one of the PDP’s legal experts observed with a note of cynicism.
In her immediate reaction, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti expressed to media that the NC-led coalition government had been doling out lies in all matters including the so-called judicial commission of inquiry into Haji Yousuf’s death.
In the last one month, Additional Deputy Commissioner of
, Mohammad Akbar Ganai, conducted inquest proceedings under CrPC section 176. On the basis of a medico-legal opinion from Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) of J&K Police and Forensic Medicine Department of Government Medical College Srinagar, he observed that the NC activist had died a natural death caused due to cardio-respiratory arrest. He noticed that there were neither eyewitnesses nor circumstantial evidence to suggest that the NC activist had been tortured or subjected to death by other means. Srinagar
Meanwhile, Crime Branch registered a matter of cheating against the deceased and started a separate investigation. Not satisfied with the procedures of the state government, family members of the deceased have filed a petition in the designated anti-corruption court in Srinagar, seeking direction to State Vigilance Organisation for holding an inquiry into the accusations of political corruption that have come up during the sequence of events. However, court has not issued any order till date. The much-hyped, lately constituted J&K State Accountability Commission (SAC) has maintained a studied silence and not taken suo moto cognizance of the allegations of political corruption.
According to the purported statements, NC’s activist Mohammad Yousuf Bhat of Ganderbal had paid cash worth Rs 84 Lakh to the deceased Haji Yousuf as part payment on account of his prospective appointment as a Member of Legislative Council and Minister of State incharge of the lucrative Roads and Buildings Department. Another NC activist, namely Abdul Salam Rishi, had purportedly paid Rs 34 Lakh through the same channel for becoming MLC. Deceased Haji Yousuf was quoted to have said that he had passed on the money to the NC President and union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah. Since the matter involves alleged bargaining and trading by corrupt practices on seats in Legislative Council and the Council of Ministers, SAC has directly jurisdiction to take cognizance and launch a detailed investigation.