New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium is soon going to decide on the appointment of four lawyers to the Jammu & Kashmir High Court. The names had been recommended by the J&K High Court collegium in March.
However, what is making the Supreme Court collegium’s job a tad difficult is an adverse report by intelligence agencies about the “close links” one of the candidates has with a top separatist leader.
The candidate, advocate Javed Iqbal Wani, is the son-in-law of Mian Abdul Qayoom, president of the Kashmir Bar Association who allegedly propagates the cause of separatists.
Qayoom is also known to be one of the founding members of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference led by separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He has close links with Geelani and provides legal assistance to the separatists in the Valley. He also has a history of fighting cases, which the government thinks go against the national interest.
Sources said following the negative intelligence reports, the Centre had last month communicated to the Supreme Court collegium that it is opposed to Wani being cleared for elevation to the HC bench.
According to reports, Wani was being considered for appointment as assistant solicitor general by the Narendra Modi government. However, the appointment never fructified.
In February this year, Governor Satya Pal Malik appointed him senior additional advocate general.
Incidentally, as a lawyer, Wani has handled several high-profile cases, including the Pathribal fake encounter case in which he appeared for the Indian Army.
Sources in the apex court told ThePrint that the intelligence report doesn’t have any specific inputs to establish that Wani shares his father-in-law’s ideology.
More importantly, Wani has himself categorically denied that he shares or follows Qayoom’s political agenda.
Apart from Wani, the other names recommended by the high court collegium were of advocates Rajnesh Oswal, Rahul Bharti and Moksha Khajuria-Kazmi.
Qayoom was detained after Article 370 move
Qayoom is the longest-serving president of the Kashmir Bar Association — he was first elected in 1986. Such is his support base — many allege that he draws his strength from his support to the cause of separatists and anti-India forces active in Kashmir — that he has often won unopposed.
Incidentally, Qayoom’s law degree is also under scanner.
He was detained a number of times in 2017, including under the Public Safety Act, on charges of spreading anti-India propaganda. Qayoom was also summoned by the National Investigation Agency for his alleged role in funding of terror organisations.
He was among those detained by the J&K Police after the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 on 5 August.