Riyaz ul Khaliq
Srinagar: As a group of lawyers remain busy “exploring all options” regarding the jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources in the government maintain that the central Act needs “no concurrence of the state legislature”.
A senior official handling the legal affairs said that the NIA Act passed by the Parliament in 2008 December “extends to the state of Jammu and Kashmir through the Union list”.
“The 97th entry in the Union list, as applicable to state of Jammu and Kashmir, notifies that the law (for) prevention of activities involving terror acts shall extend to the state of J&K as well,” the legal expert said.
State-centre relations in the Indian Union are guided by three lists: Union, State and Concurrent. The State list does not apply to J&K by virtue of Article 370.
After the recent crackdown by the NIA on the resistance leadership in J&K, a Kashmir-based group of senior lawyers are “vigorously studying whether the NIA Act can extend its operations to J&K, which enjoys a special position in Union of India”.
At the time of signing the Instrument of Accession with India, then J&K ruler Maharaja Hari Singh had given to the Indian Union control of three areas: Communications, External Affairs and Defence.
“Laws against unlawful activities passed by Parliament extend to all states of India, including J&K,” government sources told Reader.
The NIA has registered a case against the Hurriyat Conference on charges that its members receive money from Pakistan to “fund terror-related activities in J&K”.
Seven members of the Hurriyat Conference have been arrested so far.
Mulling to file a writ in the J&K High Court in Srinagar, the Kashmir Bar Association has formed a nine-member team to challenge the NIA’s jurisdiction over J&K.
The government sources said that all central laws that were extended to Jammu and Kashmir came through Presidential orders.
They added that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is one of the five Scheduled Offences in the Constitution of India.
“All five Scheduled Offences apply directly to the state of J&K. Thus, NIA Act needs not go through the J&K legislature,” they explained.
Further, the sources said, Article 248 of the Constitution of India empowers the Parliament to make any law (extending to all states including J&K) against any activity involving terrorist activities aimed against the government.
It may be recalled that the NIA had considered setting up four permanent offices in J&K in 2015. However, Hurriyat Conference chief Syed Ali Geelani threatened to launch a public agitation against this and the plan was shelved.
“It is a clear violation of the special status (of J&K under Indian Constitution) and the constitution of the state,” Geelani had said in a statement on September 3, 2015.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, a member of the Bar Association had on Thursday said, “The Bar will be, primarily, challenging the validity of the (NIA) Act in J&K. We will question whether the (NIA) Act can be extended to J&K.”