Srinagar: Kashmir High Court Bar Association (KHCBA) Monday boycotted full court reference to protest “vetting” of the homage speech to be made by its president for Justice Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi, who had drafted the constitution of Hurriyat Conference.
“The (KHCBA) boycotted the reference because it was conveyed by Justice Virender Singh and (other) Judges through Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, general secretary (KHCBA) to the president that he should give his speech in writing and in advance, which has to go to the Chief Justice for approval and that only after his approval the president would be allowed to read the speech in the reference,” a spokesman of the lawyers’ body said.
“As the demand was unprecedented and it had never happened before, therefore, the Bar rejected the same,” the spokesman said.
However, the lawyers held a condolence meeting and paid rich tributes to Justice Farooqi.
While paying tributes to him, KHCBA president Mian Abdul Qayoom narrated the events which had led to the elevation, and later resignation, of Farooqi as the Chief Justice.
“It was because of his in-depth understanding of constitutional law that he had resigned by saying that he cannot be transferred by the government of India to Sikkim, as the state enjoyed special status under Article 370 of the Constitution of India,” Qayoom said.
He said that after constituting Basic Human Rights (Protection) Committee and becoming its chairman, Justice Farooqi travelled every nook and corner of the state to investigate human rights violations “committed by the Indian armed forces, and exposed the Indian state through his documentation.”
Speaking on the occasion, Advocate Syed Manzoor Ahmad said that Justice Farooqi was legendary and he contributed a lot towards the “freedom movement.”
He said that in 1990, Justice Farooqi called him to his house and told him whether he would accompany him to some far off places of Budgam, where certain killings had taken place.
“I accompanied him to those places, and he recorded statements of about 44 witnesses in his own hand and thereafter released a comprehensive report exposing the butchery of Indian armed forces,” Manzoor said.
Former KHCBA president and senior advocate, Zaffar Qureshi, stated that he was a fan of Justice Farooqi and he practiced before him first when he was district judge and thereafter as a judge and Chief Justice of the High Court.
Qureshi said that Justice Farooqi after his resignation was “fully involved in the freedom struggle and did his best to take the struggle to its logical end.”
Former general secretary of KHCBA, advocate G. N. Shaheen, stated that the former Chief Justice was a great man. “He was a legal luminary and best exponent of law. I he came in contact with Justice Farooqi in 1990 when he constituted Basic Human Rights (Protection) Committee. I along with GN Hagroo and HN Wanchoo were the other people who were involved in documenting human rights violations.”
“When Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi was assigned the task of preparation of Hurriyat constitution, he showed utmost tolerance in accommodating the viewpoint of all the participants,” Shaheen said, adding that the “freedom struggle has everything in it, but it has not a constitutional board to resist the Indian constitutional onslaught.”
“We are fighting a freedom war, which has to be fought with wisdom and foresight. We should also remember Justice Rizvi, who has played an important role in the freedom struggle of Kashmir,” Shaheen added.
Advocate Mufti Meraj-ud-Din, a relative of Justice Farooqi, said the latter was an institution in himself. “It is true that Justice Farooqi was ditched by National Conference, but it is not he alone, but his forefathers as well who suffered at the hands of Sikhs and others on account of their honesty and integrity.”
Advocate R. A. Jan recalled Justice Farooqi’s contribution “in making of today’s top lawyers.”
“I joined Bar in late ‘70s, and it was not in those days easy for a newcomer to appear in the High Court. It goes to the credit of Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi, who encouraged youngsters mostly Muslims to appear in the High Court,” Jan said.
He said Justice Farooqi’s son, Mufti Showkat, also joined the Bar in those days, and thereafter a conspiracy started against Justice Farooqi which culminated in his transfer and resignation.
“After 1990, Mufti Sahab came forward and started documentation of human rights violations which were taking place in the state and thereby contributed a lot to the freedom struggle,” Jan said. He said that Kashmiri lawyers are so intelligent and brilliant that they can rub their shoulders with any lawyer of any High Court and Supreme Court of India, and the credit goes to Justice Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi.
Advocate Altaf Haqani said in the death of Justice Farooqi “we have lost a great human being and a legal luminary.” He said that two months ago, Farooqi had told his son that he has got two months lease of life, and thereafter showed the place to his son where he should be buried after his death.
Former KHCBA president Nazir Ahmad Ronga said Justice Farooqi “became a target of Kashmiri Pandits who were practicing in the High Court and it is because of their intrigues that he was transferred to Sikkim.”
Earlier the lawyers abstained from work in the High Court to show their respect for the departed soul.
At the end of the meeting, the members offered ‘fateh’ for the departed soul and pledged to work hard for taking the “ongoing freedom struggle to its logical end and also try to follow the footprints of Justice Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi.”