Total Pageviews

Friday, January 6, 2017

J&K High Court may get 6 new judges in February

Selection process to fill up 8 vacancies of judges resuming after retirement of TS Thakur, MH Attar

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Jan 5: With the appointment of Justice K.S. Khehar as the new Chief Justice of India, to be followed by retirement of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar in Jammu and Kashmir later this month, the stalled process of filling up eight vacancies of judges in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court (JKHC) is starting afresh any time from now.

Top judicial and bureaucratic circles insist that minimum of six new judges could be inducted in JKHC any time in the months of February or March. With the Chief Justice (N. Paul Vasanthakumar) and 9 judges being currently in place, JKHC has a shortfall of 7 judges which would further rise to 8 with the retirement of Justice Attar on January 30.

During Governor’s rule, in March 2015, Collegium of JKHC had initiated the process of the appointment of 6 judges while recommending a list of 9 individuals from the Bar and the higher judicial service. However, the boat hit rock after rock as Governor Narendra Nath Vohra reportedly complained that the names had been recommended without his knowledge, Mehbooba Mufti took over as Chief Minister in April and a confrontation between then CJI Tirath Singh Tkakur and the Union Government over the procedure of the appointment of judges froze the whole exercise.

After the appointment of 4 judges---Ali Mohammad Magrey, Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Tashi Rabstan and Janak Raj Kotwal---in March 2013, only three new judges have joined JKHC (Bawa Singh Walia in February 2015, Ramalingam Sudhakar in April 2016 and Alok Aradhe in September 2016) in the last about four years. Of the 10 incumbent judges, 8 are from the Bar and only 2 from the judicial service.

As the Union Ministry of Law and Justice returned the list for certain clarifications and explanations, the Mehbooba Mufti government is understood to have recommended the already submitted list. It was marked that the previous exercise had been carried out with the approval of then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. However, ahead of the retirement of Justice Hasnain Massodi in 2016, the government in coordination with the Collegium is understood to have incorporated the names of the advocate Mohammad Yousuf Bhat and Principal District and Sessions Judge of Jammu Sanjay Gupta.

Those recommended initially included former Registrar General Kaneez Fatima, who was in beginning of last year functioning as a Member of J&K Sales Tax Tribunal and Registrar General Maharaj Krishen Hanjura. Both have retired from judicial service in 2016. Mr Hanjura was appointed as a Member in the Union Government’s Company Law Board. However, he quit that position upon his appointment  as an appellate authority under the Food Safety and Standards Act. While as he was appointed as appellate authority in Jammu, Mohammad Yousuf Akhoon, who retired as Principal Secretary to Chief Justice in JKHC, was appointed as appellate authority in Kashmir.

With complaints and accusation pouring in as usual, Union Ministry of Law and Justice is understood to have dropped some names including one on “adverse report" from the Intelligence Bureau. If the sources are to be believed, Kashmir-based advocate Nisar Hussain Shah was taken out on account of having crossed age of 59 years and replaced by advocate Mohammad Yousuf Bhat. Jammu-based advocates Raj Kumar Gupta and Sanjeev Kumar Shukla are understood to have been taken out for being litigants in a matter, involving allotment of premises in Bahu Plaza, currently pending with JKHC.

With then CJI Justice Thakur reportedly having reservations vis-a-vis some names in the list, sources say that Kaneez Fatima and Sanjay Gupta were discussed from among the three judicial officers and Mir Syed Lateef, Gandarabh Singh Thakur and Mohammad Yousuf Bhat from the seven advocates in a meeting chaired by CJI in November 2016.

According to sources, retirement of the now 61-year-old Kaneez Fatima would not affect her prospects for appointment as High Court judge in view of the recent precedent of B. Gokuldas who was appointed as a judge of the Madras High Court in 2016, nearly a year after his retirement as a District judge in June 2015. He will serve at High Court for just a little over one year.

While as the District judges reach superannuation at completing 60 years of age, High Court judges retire upon 62 years. If no other issues, like integrity and security, hinder her appointment, Kaneez Fatima could create history in the State by becoming the first female judge in JKHC.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

MLA wants raishumari, MLC calls militant Burhan Wani ‘shaheed’

BJP, PDP mute to separatist voices in Assembly; Pawan Gupta attributes Kashmir killings to ‘lowering of guard’ by Mehbooba government

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Jan 3: Competitive separatism by the Valley’s mainstream politicians on Monday created a theatre of the absurd Martin Esslin wouldn’t have imagined on the floor of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in Jammu and Kashmir which has every member on oath to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India. New Delhi’s licensed secessionist narrative turned bizarre when the BJP-PDP coalition watched dumbly independent MLA Er. Rashid calling for ‘raishumari’ (plebiscite) and the National Conference (NC) MLC Showkat Hussain Ganai eulogising the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as a ‘shaheed’ (martyr).

Those having enjoyed Vishal Bhardwaj’s chutzpah sequence in the Bollywood film Haider—the depressed protagonist at Lalchowk chantingto the crowds iss paar bhi lenge aazadi, uss paar bhi lenge aazadi—were amused to listen to an elected lawmaker. “Raishumari insha allah hokar rahegi. Aaj nahi tau kal ittihas banega” (Plebiscite, God willing, will be held in Jammu and Kashmir. If not today, tomorrow history will be created) the MLA from Langet grumbled on the floor of the Assembly.

Even as a former BJP-associate and MLA of Udhampur Pawan Gupta registered his strong protest and the BJP-PDP chose to remain a mute spectator, Rashid went ahead to claim that the slain militant Burhan Wani and the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba’s J&K chief Abu Dujana were “ruling the hearts” in Kashmir. “You want to rule us at the barrel of the gun”, Rashid shouted on the BJP MLAs and Ministers. “Fact of the matter is that not more than 4,000 Kashmiris participated in Mufti Sayeed’s funeral while as thousands and lakhs of them attended Burhan’s and (former LeT chief) Abu Qasim’s last rites”, Rashid asserted.

“What are you guys going to get out of this rhetoric of the domicile certificate? See 25 of this House’s seats are lying here vacant for that part of the State since decades. If the Parliament has passed a resolution of getting back that part of Kashmir in 1995, why didn’t you get it back in 20 years? You are concerned about nothing but elections in Kashmir. Once you hold them, you forget about everything. Your slumber breaks when turbulence crashes into your face. Then you send envoys and interlocutors to Valley to touch Geelani’s feet. You have messed up things. With this irresponsible behaviour, Kashmir has slipped out of everybody’s hand. If Geelani will tread a single step toward you, Kashmiris today will burn down his house. You people are responsible for every drop of blood being shed in Kashmir”, Rashid shouted.

Rashid contended that successive governments in New Delhi had created and perpetuated an atmosphere of political uncertainty with deceitful rhetoric, leading generation after generation to believe that the State’s borders would be redrawn one day. He alleged that nothing but expediency and convenience were the cornerstones of the alliance between BJP and PDP that, according to him, had been driving in opposite directions in Jammu and Srinagar. There was no ideological symmetry or commitment, he claimed.

“Here in Jammu, you BJP guys call Burhan a terrorist. I dare a single PDP member get up and call him a terrorist”, Rashid challenged the principal ruling party whose MLA of Tral Mushtaq Ahmad Shah in July was the first mainstream leader to describe Burhan as a martyr and “popular crusader”. He referred to the dichotomy about Burhan between the statements of Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.

“If you people get 80% of the Kashmiris to vote in elections; if you people claim that only 5% Kashmiris are shouting for aazadi, why don’t you hold a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir?”, Rashid addressed the Treasury benches before he was marshalled out during an altercation with the former Minister and MLA Pawan Gupta. Pawan and a couple of the BJP MLAs shouted on Rashid that he should go to live in Pakistan.

In his hard-hitting speech, during the special discussion on the 2016 turmoil, Pawan assailed BJP for the volte face after becoming a partner in the government with PDP. He alleged that the BJP-led Centre had remained permissive and tolerant to competitive separatism for PDP’s pleasure and things had deteriorated to the extent that even the elected legislators, who were on oath to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India, were now outsmarting the Hurriyat with their secessionist rhetoric on the floor of the House.

“Why are you guys mute to their allegation that over 100 people were killed in Kashmir by our Police and security forces? The fact is that your government has lowered the guard in Kashmir and allowed a combination of separatism and terrorism to revive. These are only the consequences of your helplessness and incompetence”, Pawan addressed the BJP fold.

Parallel to the drama in Assembly, NC’s MLC Showkat Hussain Ganai in Legislative Council described Burhan Wani as a "shaheed” (martyr). “Kashmiris will continue to pick up guns and sacrifice their life fighting until the issue is resolved,” Ganai said.

PDP MLC Firdous Tak interrupted Ganai and asked him to clarify if it was his party’s stand. “The statement of the member is very sensitive. This massage would go outside. So he must realize what he is speaking in the House.”

“I am fully aware about the place where I am saying it and I stand by each word I said about Burhan Wani”, Ganai asserted in response to the PDP MLC. “Burhan was a freedom fighter, a martyr and this is the thinking of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, not mine alone”, he said. According to him even the Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had crossed over to Pakistan “for finding resolution of the long-pending Kashmir dispute, not for contesting elections”.


[STATE TIMES January 4, 2016]

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Governor, CM forced to cut short their speeches in Assembly

·       Vohra speaks of the Kashmiris ‘killed by a tear gas shell or blinded by pellets’, leaves while national anthem was on

·       NC-Congress MLAs corner Mehbooba over her reference to 1987 polls, claim Mufti Sayeed was driver of that ‘rigging’

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Jan 2: The Jammu and Kashmir Legislature’s Budget session commenced in the winter capital on Monday with Governor Narendra Nath Vohra’s ceremonial address jointly to the both Houses even as he was forced by an uproarious opposition to cut short his speech before Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti faced a similar situation in Assembly.

As soon as Mr Vohra began reading out a 69-paragraph speech approved by the Cabinet, entire opposition in the Central Hall got up to protest ‘bloodshed in Kashmir’, domicile certificates to the PoK refugees and ‘failure on all fronts’ of the PDP-BJP Government. Members shouted slogans, waved placards and did not allow Governor to proceed with his address.

For about 7 minutes, Mr Vohra continued reading out his speech in the din without regard to the opposition’s pandemonium. Thereafter he stood mute for 5 minutes. The visibly upset, Governor suddenly jumped to the concluding paragraph numbers 68 and 69. As the national anthem began playing and the opposition stood shouting, Mr Vohra walked out the House and drove straight to Raj Bhawan.

Even the ruling BJP MLAs like the vociferous Ravinder Raina objected to Governor’s behaviour and told mediapersons that Mr Vohra should not have moved while the national anthem was on. They complained that the opposition as well as the Governor had shown “disrespect” to the national anthem, probably for the first tie in the history of the State Legislature.

Governor’s address stressed on reconciliation and healing touch with special references to the five-month-long cataclysm witnessed in the Valley after the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8 in 2016. Around 90 persons, including some Policemen, got killed and thousands of civilian protesters and security forces personnel injured in hundreds of clashes, crippling every activity including transport, businesses, tourism, education, telecommunication and development.

“For the last few years, from around 2008, social order has been targeted and this has posed a far bigger challenge than any of the earlier ones. I am confident that we shall not allow the weave and weft of our social fabric to be affected in the name of religion or ethnicity”, Mr Vohra said.

“It is in our interest to urgently embark on this mission, particularly to protect the psyche of the incoming generation from being fractured by the unprecedented civil strife, political disruption and chaos which we have seen in the State, while enormous progress has been taking place in other parts of our country. No responsible society can afford to stand by and see the alienation of its youth”, Mr Vohra said. “Let us not forget that our young people, aged from 15 to 30 years, account for around 40 per cent of our total population”, he added.

Governor said: “The loss of lives in the past six months is most unfortunate and regrettable. The irreparable pain of losing someone we love is not unknown to us. While the political rhetoric may result in keeping us at odds, our grief brings us together — whether of a mother who has lost her young soldier son on duty at the line of control or of a mother whose child has been killed by a tear gas shell or blinded by pellets”.

“While hundreds were injured, civilians, Police and paramilitary forces personnel lost their lives. I share the grief of all the families who have lost their loved ones and pray for the early recovery of all those who were injured”, Governor said.

After the Governor’s address ended at a turbulent note, both Houses of Legislature started routine business with the obituary references while paying tributes to the former Governor Lt Gen (retd.) S.K. Sinha, former State Congress President and Governor of some States Mohammad Shafi Qureishi, former Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma and five other politicians who had served as legislators and passed away after the Legislature’s summer session.

In Assembly, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti invited trouble for herself with her tangential reference to the “days when some people were fighting for Plebiscite, which they finally dismissed as waywardness, and leaders like Qureishi Sahab and Mufti Sahab laid the foundation stone on the national mainstream party in Kashmir”. It evoked some hostile reactions from NC but she went on: “These very people rigged the elections in 1987 and created the unending militancy”.

NC’s MLAs, most vociferously Abdul Majid Larmi of Homeshalibugh, shouted on Mehbooba with the rejoinder that if her allegation of rigging was correct, her father late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was equally involved and responsible. “Madame, stand corrected that in 1987 Mufti Sahab was an important leader in Congress and thus no less responsible for the rigging than NC and Congress”, Larmi shouted with the support of solidarity from other MLAs of the two opposition parties who had earlier staged a walk out.

As the ruckus refused to die down, Chief Minister hastily concluded her speech and Speaker Kavinder Gupta signed off the business.



West Pak refugees will continue to be non-State subjects: Vohra

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Jan 2: In his address to J&K Legislature on Monday, Governor N.N. Vohra clarified that issuance of domicile certificate would in no way affect the State’s laws about the permanent residents and asserted that the West Pakistan refugees settled in Jammu would continue to be the non-State subjects.

“Yet another issue that is being played up is the issue of West Pakistan Refugees. As a part of the Agenda of Alliance (between PDP and BJP) it was decided to sympathetically deal with this humanitarian issue. The State Government has facilitated their identification to enable them to get work in the paramilitary forces and other Central Government establishments. This identification does not change the status of the West Pakistan Refugees; they continue to be non-State subjects”, Governor said in para-66 of his address.

As regards Government of India’s support to the PoK refugees, Governor said: “In order to extend monetary support to Displaced Persons of PoK (1947) as well as the Displaced Persons of Chhamb (1965 and 1971), an immediate settlement at the rate of Rs 5.50 lakh has been provided in favour of each of the 36,384 families who have been found eligible through the laid down procedure”.


[STATE TIMES January 3, 2017]

Monday, January 2, 2017

Timber smugglers attack Forest party in Sopore; 15 officials injured, 6 vehicles damaged

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Jan 1: Fifteen officials of Forest Department were injured and six vehicles damaged when timber smugglers in Sopore area of Baramulla district, in northern Kashmir, attacked them during a series of raids in Rampora forests.

Officials in Sopore told STATE TIMES that immediately after receiving SOS from the Forest party, a Police team swung into action and got the badly trapped rescued from Rampora Rajpora forest cover of Kandi in the evening on Sunday. Case FIR No: 2/2017 has been registered against the assailants who are said to have damaged six vehicles and caused injuries to 15 officials of Forest Department and Forest Protection Force (FPF). Sources said that the accused named by the complainants would be arrested and some of them could be detained under Public Safety Act.

DFO Kamraj, Mohammad Ayub Sheikh, told STATE TIMES over telephone from Sopore that on specific information he had earlier on Sunday organised a major raid on the houses of the timber smugglers and the people who were known to have dumped the illegally felled trees and timber on their premises. DFO Langate Mohammad Ayub Pandit and Deputy Directors of FPF units of Kupwara and Baramulla were also in the raiding party comprising 100 to 150 officials.

“As we recovered a quantity of the illegally acquired timber from some houses, the timber smugglers along with the residents mounted an organised attack on our party. They attacked our officials with lathis, axes, sharp-edged weapons and stones and left 15 of us injured. Six of our vehicles, including two private Tata Sumo vehicles, were badly damaged in the attack. One of our critically injured employees was prevented from reaching the hospital and held in wrongful confinement. A Police official in that area provided us shelter till we contacted SDM Sopore, Sopore Police and CCF Kashmir through a WiLL phone as there is no mobile connectivity in that area. Thereafter a Police party arrived in and it rescued it”, DFO Kamraj Mr Sheikh said.

DFO Kamraj added that with the help of the Police party, his team persisted with the raid and seized around 130 cubic-foot of timber from several houses. He said that the injured were evacuated and later treated at Sopore. “We have prepared PSA detention cases against 10 timber smugglers and their helpers. We are submitting these cases to DC Baramulla tomorrow”, Mr Sheikh added. He said that Rampora was a notorious hub of the timber smugglers where the illegal felling of conifer trees and timber smuggling had not been fully neutralised, notwithstanding several raids and seizures and detentions under PSA in the last 10 years.