Srinagar: Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Mian Qayoom Friday questioned the authority of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state.
“There was so much noise created about the revocation of AFSPA by PDP and now it is saying decision will be taken by BJP-led government in India and army will be taken on board,” Qayoom told a seminar organised by the lawyers’ body to pay homage to human rights lawyer Jaleel Andrabi on his 17th martyrdom anniversary.
“Then what are you. What is your power, authority? What can you do in the state of Jammu and Kashmir?” Qayoom said.
The government recently disclosed that AFSPA is legally tenable even as Disturbed Areas Act-1997, whose enactment is a prerequisite for imposing AFSPA, has lapsed from 7 October 1998 in the state.
“The AFSPA continues to remain in force and the presently notified areas in the state have been declared so under this Act (AFSPA),” an official spokesman had said Monday, days after the chief minister said that his government will de-notify the areas under DAA.
The seminar also deliberated upon the proposed settlement of refugees from Pakistan-administrated Kashmir and West Pakistan and constitution of a Delimitation Commission announced by the ruling alliance in the state.
Qayoom said that in 2008, two writ petitions had been filed in the high court, one by Bhim Singh (chairman JKNPP) and the other by Sheikh Abdul Rehman, who was then associated with BJP and later joined Janta Dal.
Their main contention was that delimitation should be based on population.
“One of the arguments put forth by them was that there are 15000 people in Karnah (an assembly constituency) while more than 3 lakh people live in Ghandinagar Jammu alone,” he said.
At that time, an amendment in the Representation of People Act led to a moratorium on the Delimitation Commission in 2026, he said, adding that the Bar Association contested it before a division bench of justices Barin Ghosh and Mansoor Ahmad Mir.
“We read all the resolutions of United Nations before the bench and ultimate the petitions were dismissed. Subsequently, the judgment was challenged before Supreme Court of India and it upheld it (judgment),” he said.
As per the judgments and the amendment in the Act, he said, there can be no delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir as also in India.
“It is their law which has put moratorium on delimitation and now you see the CMP of PDP-BJP, it calls for constitution of Delimitation Commission,” Qayoom said and asked people to take stock of the happenings in the state.
“We should defeat the BJP-PDP common minimum programme relating to the settlement of West Pakistan refugees and constitution of delimitation commission.”
Qayoom also criticised the PDP for its “flip flop” on Article 370 before and after assembly elections.
“You see what happened on the release of Masrat Alam who has 28 FIRs registered against him and there were six detention orders under PSA on same grounds. After Supreme Court and high court quashed the detention orders, there was no justification for keeping him in (jail) yet there was uproar about his release in Parliament. This speaks that this government has no powers and orders come from New Delhi,” Qayoom said.
He said that there are many prisons languishing in jails despite serving life sentence, which is 20 years according to Prison Act of Jammu and Kashmir.
“While there is no such mention in the Central Act and as such life sentence is differently interpreted,” he said.
Earlier, he paid rich tributes to Jaleel Andrabi and other “martyrs of the Bar and of the state.”
Qayoom said that Avtar Singh, the army major who had murdered Andrabi in custody, met his fate by committing suicide.
“It was sure to happen to him,” he added.