New Delhi: When the Supreme Court collegium cleared the appointment of lawyer Moksha Kazmi-Khajuria as a judge of the J&K High Court, it decided to overlook the Narendra Modi government’s reference to the fact that she had converted to Islam to marry a Kashmiri Muslim man.
The collegium, at its 15 October meeting, had approved the names of two lawyers recommended by the J&K High Court collegium while refusing to clear two other names.
The Central government had also raised red-flags about the “sudden rise” in Kazmi-Khajuria’s income, her competence as a lawyer, as well as the perceived closeness of her husband’s family to the Peoples Democratic Party led by Mehbooba Mufti.
“It seems the government, without saying it categorically, hoped that the collegium would reject her name. But since when is a marriage like hers a crime?” said a Supreme Court source familiar with the matter.
Kazmi-Khajuria, a Hindu from Jammu, had converted to Islam to marry Yasir Sayeed Kazmi, a businessman living in Barzulla, Srinagar.
“The reference to her income also seemed part of the same game-plan,” the source said. “But, the collegium decided to ignore it and recommended her name a few days ago.”
Kazmi-Khajuria had been appointed Additional Advocate General in the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government in J&K, but was removed from her post over differences between then-law minister Abdul Haq Khan and Advocate General Jehangir Iqbal Ganai.
The income question
The Centre’s note pointed out that while Kazmi-Khajuria’s average annual income between 2012 and 2016 — three financial years — was between Rs 2.50 lakh and 3.25 lakh, it jumped to Rs 12 lakh and Rs 15 lakh in the fiscals 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.
But the Supreme Court source added: “There was nothing on record to suggest that this so-called sudden rise was due to some illegal activities or manipulation in the candidate’s real income. Like several others, it was a clear example of the Centre trying to build a case just because it didn’t like a candidate. That is why the collegium didn’t buy the Centre’s contention.”