SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court Bar Association has decided to postpone its elections at least by two weeks. The annual elections were scheduled to be held for five posts on August 24.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, a member of Bar’s election commission said the elections were deferred due to “all important” cases including that of ban on use of pellets in Jammu and Kashmir and hearing of a case on Article 35A.
“Out of 11 candidates who have stood for five different posts, 8 agreed that the polls must be deferred,” he said.
The Supreme Court (SC) of India is hearing a writ petition seeking an end to use of fatal pellets in J&K. “The date of pellet write hearing was scheduled in September but all of sudden the Bar was informed the date was re-fixed on August 21,” advocate Ejaz Bedar told this newspaper.
Bar is a party in this petition and the elections were scheduled on Thursday (August 24).
Following the call from SC, the Bar issued a notice asking its members to volunteer for the writ petition. “Any lawyer could go and represent the Bar,” he said, “but costs of travel and boarding were to be borne by him/her.”
It was incumbent Bar president, Mian Abdul Qayoom, himself who took a flight to New Delhi and stood before the SC in the case.
Next, it is the hearing of a petition against Article 35A on August 31 which has been filed by a right wing NGO – We The Citizens.
“Bar has been attending the hearing since the day petition was filed in SC,” said another lawyer, “and we could not afford to miss this hearing in any case.”
Bar has 1102 registered voters who will decide fate of 11 candidates for the post of president, vice-president, secretary, joint-secretary and treasurer.
To justify the postponement of elections, the Bar election commissioner reasoned that those who would present Bar in SC at the two occasions could not hold campaign in Srinagar. “So, it was unanimously agreed that elections should be postponed. Now the elections would be held in September.”
Kashmir Reader has earlier reported as to how the Bar has formed a committee to defend the Article 35 A of Indian Constitution and “the lawyers’ body was ready with its case but was waiting for the right moment to move its application before the SC to become a party in the case”.
The issue of Article 35A has rattled the pro-India political parties in Kashmir which see it as attack on the “special status” of J&K in the Union of India.
The resistance leadership has also warned of “serious consequences” if the Article was scrapped.
The state government has sent finance minister Haseeb A Drabu to New Delhi to lobby with the right wing Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) to support the stand of J&K state in the SC.
Hearing the petition, the SC sought responses from the J&K and the Indian government. The hearing is scheduled to be held on August 29.