Srinagar: The J&K high court on Wednesday issued a notice to the government for filing its response within a week to a Public Interest Litigation, demanding a judicial probe by a sitting judge in the molestation of a schoolgirl in Handwara and the subsequent killing of five persons in firing by government forces.
A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Tashi Rabstan also urged the Advocate General to assist the court on the next date of hearing, posted at 10:30 am on April 26. The court passed the directions after hearing advocate Mian Qayoom, president of Kashmir High Court Bar Association who has filed the PIL.
In his arguments, Qayoom refereed to various news reports to substantiate the plea. He also referred to the statement by PDP’s MP from North Kashmir and Supreme Court lawyer, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, seeking a judicial probe by the high court’s sitting judge. Qayoom said that under both domestic as well as international law, the crime committed by the army or the police at Handwara and Kupwara, killing five unarmed youngsters, is “unpardonable.”
“These incidents have shocked humanity and have brought mankind to shame (sic),” Qayoom said, underlining that he has no personal interest in the matter except to uphold the dignity and honour of all human beings and protect their life and liberty from the “onslaught of the police and ensure the safety, security and privacy of a girl.”
“As there are no chances of getting a fair deal at the hands of the government agencies as they are determined to save the perpetrators of the crime, therefore, it is now for the court to act and provide relief to the people by ordering a high level judicial probe to be headed by a sitting judge of the High Court,” Qayoom said.
The sitting judge, he said, shall be assisted by a high-level investigating team to be headed by a credible police officer of the rank of an IGP, so that the FIRs registered at Handwara, Drugmulla, Natnusa, and Kupwara are also investigated simultaneously and final reports in term of section 173 Cr PC filed before the appropriate court. “Whosoever, is found guilty in the molestation of the minor girl and the killing of innocent civilians be punished according to law,” he said.
Qayoom also demanded that investigating officers or a team should be directed to visit the spot and collect all evidence which may be available on the spot and relevant to the case so as to use in the court. He also sought direction to the investigating agency to see as to who recorded the statement of the victim girl in the police station, Handwara, and how she was videographed, and at whose instance her video was released on social networks.
“The investigating agency should be also directed to investigate as to on whose instance the girl, her father and aunt were detained at the police station and as to who met them in the police station during their detention.”
The investigating team, he said, should also be directed to see as to whether the girl’s statement before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Handwara satisfied the requirements of law. “While ensuring the safety and security of the victim girl and her family, it also should ordered that no one should cause any harm or interference in her family life and she must be also allowed to move freely and attend classes in school, without any restriction on her movement,” Qayoom added.