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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

J&K govt. invokes Section 144, disallows high court bar association elections in Srinagar

The J&K administration on July 15 invoked Section 144, which bars assembly of more than four people, and barred the J&K High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) in Srinagar from holding elections.

“There is an emergent situation which can lead to a breach of peace and disruption of public order if JKHCBA proceeds forward with the scheduled elections. Therefore, I, District Magistrate, Srinagar, by virtue of the powers vested in me under Section 144 CrPC direct that no gathering of four or more persons shall be allowed in the premises of District Court Complex, Mominabad, Batamaloo or any other place for the purpose of conduct of HCBA elections till further orders,” Mohammad Aijaz Asad, District Magistrate, Srinagar, said.

The DM’s order asked the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar, “to ensure implementation of this order”. “Any violation of this order shall invite punitive action under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code, 1860,” it said.

The Association, which has been postponing elections since 2019, was planning to hold an election this month. 

According to the district magistrate, the office of SSP, Srinagar, has reported that during the meeting held on 13-07-2023 by the Kashmir Advocates Association(KAA) at Court Complex, Mominabad, Srinagar, the members of another association under the nomenclature of J&K High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) entered into the Bar room and started abusing and shouting upon the members of KAA, which led to scuffle between the two groups.

“Whereas, the SSP has highlighted that there is every possibility of internal rivalries between the two factions of the lawyers resulting in clashes between them. He has also cited in his report that the J&K High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA), Srinagar, has having past history of intimidation and provocation of other groups of the advocates, which may lead to breach of peace in the instant matter,” the government order reads.  

The order also said there were “inputs from Intelligence Agencies reveal that the JKHCBA propounds a secessionist ideology and over the past three decades the activities of JKHCBA as chronicled include organizing hartals and bandhs, intimidating members of the legal fraternity who do not subscribe to its ideology, coerce advocates to provide free legal services to the anti-national elements and use physical force against those who challenge its authority by questioning or organizing competing associations”. 

“The inputs received also indicate that not long ago, the head of a nascent lawyers’ body named ‘Young Lawyers Club’ had to face violent death in such circumstances and the matter is under probe. The intelligence reports strongly point out that the threat of use of violence and breach of peace and order in the instant matter is very high,” it said.

It further said that JKHCBA, Srinagar, constitution states the following as its first objective: “To find ways and means, take steps, for resolving the issues concerning public at large including the larger issue of peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue”.

The JKHCBA was asked to explain its position on the subject, “since the above stand is not in congruence with the Constitution of India, whereby J&K is an integral part of the country and not a dispute”, the order said.

It said the JKHCBA ought to be registered as an association and was required to produce the relevant documents. “Till date, no response has been received from the JKHCBA, Srinagar, particularly on the matter of JKHCBA constitution being antithetical to sovereignty and integrity of the not a body registered,” it said.

The order said the KAA was a registered association under Societies Registration Act, 1860. 

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