HC admits petition for judicial probe into Handwara killings

HC admits petition for judicial probe into Handwara killings
Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Friday accepted a petition to review its own judgement on the need for a judicial probe into the molestation of a schoolgirl in Handwara and the subsequent killing of five civilians at the hands of army and police in April this year. A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Tashi Rabstan directed that a notice be issued to the chief secretary to reply within two weeks if the state government had any objections to the review petition.
The petition was filed by the High Court Bar Association and was argued by its president Abdul Qayoom. The petition requested the high court to review in the light of fresh facts its May 4 judgment in which the Bar association’s plea for a judicial probe had been rejected.
On May 4, the High Court had dismissed as “unnecessary” the demand for the judicial probe by a sitting judge, observing that the “state and its functionaries have already taken the required steps envisaged by law.”
In the review plea, Abdul Qayoom argued that the petition be heard afresh, as “The review petition is based on the facts which have surfaced and have come into existence after the passing of the (judgment) on 4-05-2016. It also points at certain errors of the law and fact which are apparent on the face of the order,” Qayoom said, emphasising that it was a well-settled supposition of law that a review petition was competent when there was discovery of new and important matter or evidence.
“In view of the judgement laid down by the apex court (M Thomas Vs State of Kerala), the high court has the inherent power to correct its record. It has been held in the judgment that when the error is brought before the high court, it has not only the power but the duty to correct the error,” Qayoom said before the judges.
Qayoom submitted a copy of an editorial written in Kashmir Reader—“Theatrics over Handwara”—published on June 2, to point out how the demand for a probe into the Handwara molestation and killings suddenly calmed down in the state assembly. “The editorial throws some light as to what happened in the legislative assembly,” Qayoom said, annexing the copy of the editorial with the review petition.
The Handwara schoolgirl was in police custody for nearly a month until the high court asked her parents to write an affidavit that she did not need police security. The parents immediately submitted the affidavit, and on her release the girl said that on April 12 an army sol