Kashmir protests: SC shocked over submission by J&K lawyers’ body

Members of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association during a protest in Srinagar. File photo   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed shock at an affidavit filed by Jammu and Kashmir's top lawyers' body listing the accession of Kashmir to India, “rigged” elections and the "catch-and-kill" policy of security personnel as “historical reasons” behind the street violence and protests in the Valley.

“We are slightly shocked at the affidavit filed by you. How is it relevant for this special leave petition (questioning the use of pellet guns in Kashmir)… this is mysterious,” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra told the lawyers appearing for Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association.

The court pointed out that the petition filed by the association dealt with extensive use of pellet guns by security forces for “crowd control”. However, the affidavit filed by the lawyers' body accuses the accession of the state, rigging of polls in the state and the measures taken to subdue protests as “historical reasons”, it said.

The lawyers submitted that the affidavit was filed after the apex court itself had asked them to give a background to the continued protests.

“We don’t want any adjudication on this issue. If we had asked you to file an affidavit, then it is a mistake on our part. It is not relevant for this petition,” Chief Justice Misra responded.

The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, urged the court to dismiss the association's petition, arguing it was not maintainable. Mr. Kumar submitted that association crossed the boundaries of their petition with their affidavit which blames the accession of the State to India.

“They say every poll since 1947 was rigged, that accession should not have happened, that a catch-and-kill policy is adopted,” Mr. Kumar submitted.

The court posted the case for hearing on January 18.

The Supreme Court in July had offered to set the stage for peace talks between influential voices in Kashmir and the Centre to facilitate the return of peace to the Valley. But the government had put its foot down, saying it will not break bread with secessionist forces and cannot brook the risk of withdrawing security forces from the sensitive border state.

The Centre had categorically said it would "absolutely" not entertain any talks of azadi with these leaders.

"If you suggest secession, chances for talks are finished. Nothing will happen. But if your suggestions are something within the framework of the Constitution, then we can help," the then Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar had warned the petitioners, including the State's High Court Bar Association.

The court had asked the stakeholders in Kashmir to "take two steps back", saying a resolution could be initiated only if there were no stones and pellets fired on the streets of Kashmir.

The HC Bar Association had countered that security forces enter schools and universities and beat up the students. "If they beat up the students, students will be on the streets. Stone-throwing is a reaction. The Centre has stopped talking to the people of Kashmir. The people want uninterrupted, unconditional and sincere dialogue," the Bar's counsel had submitted then.

As a pre-condition for setting up the stage for talks between stakeholders and influential public voices in Kashmir and the Centre, the court had asked the Bar Association to take the "first step forward" by persuading stakeholders in Kashmir to file undertakings in the court that they would abstain from violence.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:34:52 PM |

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