Threatening a regional divide, Jammu courts shut over Massarat’s release
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, March 12: Mounting pressure on BJP---partner in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s coalition government---for fresh detention of the Kashmiri separatist leader Massarat Alam Bhat, Bar Association of Jammu, now christened as Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, has called for suspension of work in the Jammu wing of High Court and all subordinate courts in Jammu district on Thursday.
The work in all the courts in Jammu would remain suspended against the Muslim League leader Massarat Alam’s release from detention by the Mufti Sayeed government, a spokesperson of the association said. He said that earlier this week, all courts had remained shut on March 9 against Alam’s release in Kathua, Hiranagar and Billawar.
Threatening yet another regional polarisation in Kashmir and Jammu provinces, BAJ’s strike is unprecedented since 2008 when lawyers in the two regions had sponsored street agitations on the diametrically opposite sentiments on a religious issue. However, the Kashmir association has not been proactive in defending the separatist leader’s release this time around. Observers feel it was bound to create “an equal and opposite reaction” in the legal practitioners’ fraternity in Srinagar.
After a meeting that decided to suspend work in all benches of the High Court and all subordinate courts, lawyers told Authint Mail that the BJP Ministers were “mute spectators” to the PDP Ministers’ “open favour to the separatist leader” and “spreading of lies” over Alam’s release.
“The PDP Ministers are publicly claiming that the Supreme Court has imposed ban on Alam’s fresh detention. The fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court has never banned any separatist leader’s preventive detention. It has only only put a rider that Alam’s fresh detention order should not be implemented for a period of one week and the accused should be given a chance to pursue appropriate legal remedy”, said a lawyers and member of the association.
Referring to the Supreme Court order of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Clelameswar dated March 22, 2013, another lawyer read out para 3 and 4 of the order which says: “Having regard to the above [J&K Government’s voluntary revocation of Masarat Alam Bhat’s PSA detention vide Govt Order No: Home-389/2013 dated March 18, 2013, who had been detained under Srinagar District Magistrate’s Order No: DMS/PSA/39/2012 dated October 30, 2012] nothing survives in the Writ Petition and it is disposed of accordingly. However, it is observed that if any fresh detention order is issued by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir with respect to Masrat Alam Bhat, same shall not come into force for a period of one week from the date of communication of the order to enable him to pursue appropriate legal remedy”.
The lawyers claimed that Alam’s PSA detention ordered by District Magistrate of Jammu on September 15, 2014, was required by law to be confirmed by the State Home Department within 12 days. However, the file has intriguingly gone to Home after a month and it has been tossed between Home and Law departments during the election period and Governor’s rule.
“Mufti’s government should have regularised the lacuna on the existing grounds of DM Jammu and confirmed Alam’s detention rather than setting him free”, said another lawyer. He said that Mufti should have ordered an inquiry and initiated action against the officials of Home Department and DC Office Jammu who have “slept over the file possibly in league with the separatist leaders”.
Minister of Law and senior PDP leader Syed Basahrat Bukhari was not reachable for comment, though official sources said that a team from union Home Ministry was examining the whole case and it was “well possible” that some of the FIRs registered against Alam, in which different courts have granted bail, could be either precipitated for prosecution or assigned to a Central investigating agency.