Appointment of acquitted man as judge: SC issues notice to JK govt

Srinagar: Mohammad Altaf Khan, 44, whose appointment as an additional sessions’ judge has been put on hold following ‘adverse intelligence reports’ has moved the Supreme Court for the second time, Hindustan Times reported.
The apex court asked the state government on Monday to reply to Khan’s application within four weeks, the HT report said.
Khan had topped the selection list of nine candidates who cleared the exams for Jammu and Kashmir’s subordinate judiciary in August 2012. He was selected among 215 advocates who met an eligibility criterion of seven years of legal practice, the report said.
However, the selections were after some unsuccessful candidates filed a petition in the top court, challenging the list.
In September 2013, the SC allowed the appointments but said they would be subject to the outcome of the petition challenging the list.
Khan’s appointment was challenged citing police reports that said he had been an activist supporting the resistance from 1991 to 1998 and had received arms training in Pakistan administered Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir high court had confirmed the police verification report.
In his defence, Khan said that a court had acquitted him of the charges.
Arrested in 1998 under the Public Safety Act, Khan remained in jail for a few months, HT report said.
However, Khan’s lawyer Gagandeep Sharma told HT that his client had been given a clean chit after police witnesses told the court that the case against Khan was false.
After his release from jail, Khan went to Pune to study law and also pursued a post-graduate course at the prestigious National Law University Bangalore, HT report said.
Keeping the acquittal in view, the SC had directed the state government to take the final call on Khan’s future. But two years after the SC order, the state government is yet to come to a decision.
Khan’s fresh application before the SC says that his case had been sent to the chief secretary who constituted a screening committee in June 2013, which is yet to give its conclusions. His representations to the state government and to the chief minister’s redress cell proved futile.
Besides participating in several international peace conferences, Khan has stated he was the first Kashmiri Muslim who started confidence-building measures with Kashmiri pandits in the year 2000, HT report said.
He was also invited by the department of personnel and training to train young IAS and Kashmir administrative officers at Panchagani and in J-K, it added
“If the former chief secretary can be installed in the highest bureaucratic position in the state after being acquitted by court, why is a different yardstick being used for me,” Khan told Hindustan Times.