The filing of a first information report (FIR) by the police against a judicial magistrate for allegedly obstructing an ambulance — which allegedly caused a patient’s death — led to protest demonstrations and suspension of work in Baramulla and Sopore courts on Saturday.
The Traffic Mobile Magistrate, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, who allegedly obstructed the ambulance near Sopore on December 10, has been transferred to Kathua in Jammu after the police filed an FIR against him and his escort personnel on Thursday. The police acted on a written complaint from an independent MLA, Engineer Rashid, who claimed that the patient , Abdul Rehman Dar, died due to “late arrival” at a hospital.
Taking cognisance of complaints and media reports, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah directed the Kashmir Divisional Commissioner, Shailandar Kumar, to hold an inquiry and submit a factual report within two days. The district and subordinate courts in Baramulla and Sopore did not function as some lawyers went on a strike to register their protest over the registration of the FIR against the judge. They also resented the magistrate’s transfer. In Baramulla, the judicial employees’ union, in a gesture of solidarity with the judge and the agitating lawyers, also suspended work. It has condemned the judge’s transfer, saying it was the result of “political interference in the administration of justice,” and accused the MLA of “ enacting a drama.” In Sopore, too, some lawyers held a demonstration against the MLA. They challenged the police action and claimed that no FIR could be registered against a judge without the permission of the High Court.
Mr. Rashid said in a press conference that the lawyers’ agitation was “inhuman and unrealistic.” He asserted that nobody was above the law. He accused the lawyers of shielding a judicial employee who had “committed a serious offence” on World Human Rights Day.
Law Secretary Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri told The Hindu that the police were “fully justified” in registering an FIR on a written complaint. They pointed to the Supreme Court judgment making it binding on the police to file an FIR whenever a cognisable matter was brought before it with prima facie substance. “Nobody is above the law. The police can investigate a criminal matter against a judge but the trial proceedings cannot be held without the sanction to prosecute from the High Court,” Mr. Qadri said. He said only the President and State Governors had immunity against registration of FIR.