New Delhi: Ninety nine per cent of the habeas corpus petitions filed with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court since the scrapping of Article 370 in August last year have remained pending.
The J&K HC Bar Association’s executive committee in Srinagar said this in a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde.
In its letter dated 25 June, the committee noted that almost 13,000 people from the Kashmir Valley were arrested under provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Procedure Code, and hundreds booked under the Public Safety Act after 5 August, when Articles 370 and 35 A were scrapped in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Since 6th of August, 2019, more than 600 habeas corpus petitions have been filed before the Hon’ble High Court of Union Territory of J&K at Srinagar and till date not even 1 per cent of such cases have been decided by the J&K High Court,” the letter said.
It also referred to the habeas corpus petition filed for Mian Abdul Qayoom, president of the bar association, and said the high court took nearly six months to decide on the plea and another three months to decide the appeal.
The bar association also highlighted the difficulties faced by lawyers due to restrictions on internet speed in Jammu and Kashmir. The letter noted the “tremendous hardships” faced by advocates, particularly in Srinagar, since August 2019.
“Because of restrictions in operation of 4G in J&K, it is very difficult to argue the matters through virtual mode, though, an option is given to the counsel to appear before the court. The lawyers whose cases are listed are allowed to enter the court premises but their clerks and juniors are not allowed disabling the lawyers to assist the courts properly,” the letter stated.
The association has sought a meeting with the CJI and demanded that orders be passed addressing its grievances.
‘No response’ from HC chief justice
The bar association, in its letter, also said it had approached HC Chief Justice Gita Mittal with their concerns, but no concrete steps were taken.
“Hon’ble The Chief Justice of Hon’ble High Court of Union Territory of J&K had met the members of the Executive Committee of the J&K High Court Bar Association, Srinagar a week before the lockdown, the committee brought into the notice of Her Lordships, the problems of the members of the J&K High Court Bar Association, Srinagar, which they were facing but till date no concrete steps were taken by Hon’ble The Chief Justice, High Court of Union Territory of J&K, for resolving said problems,” the letter said.
The association also said its executive committee tried to have another meeting with Chief Justice Mittal after the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, but there was “no response”.
The letter said the association was “compelled” to write to the CJI as Chief Justice Mittal has “failed to take any decision” or have a meeting with its members.