Petition Challenges Curbs Under 144

Court summon records, directs officials to file affidavits

Jammu: In a significant order Justice Tashi Rabstan of Jammu and Kashmir High Court (Jammu Wing) Wednesday directed the state government to file reply to a petition terming the imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Cr.P.C as illegal and draconian.

Issuing the order in a jampacked court room the learned judge directed Secretary Home J&K, District Magistrate Jammu and Senior Superintendent of Police Jammu to produce the records with regard to imposition of 144 Cr.P.C. restrictions and further directed the said authorities to file their affidavits by or before next date of hearing ( August, 14, 2015) when the matter will be heard at 8:30 AM sharp.

These directions were passed in the writ petition filed by J&K High Court Bar Association Jammu through its General Secretary A.P. Singh seeking quashment of order No.54 DMJ of 2015 dated August, 1, 2015 whereby District Magistrate Jammu imposed the restrictions under Section 144 Cr.P.C within the Municipal Limits of all Tehsils of Jammu.

Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocate Irfaan Mohammad Khan appearing for the petitioner Association submitted that order imposing restrictions was issued by the District Magistrate Jammu with non-application of mind as the entire order is non-speaking, vindictive, biased and actuated with malafide considerations. 

He branded the order as draconian as it took away the fundamental right of the petitioner Association and AIIMS Coordination Committee to lodge peaceful protest for their demand of establishment of full-fledged AIIMS in Jammu. He further submitted that the order impugned was issued just to snub the ongoing agitation which received mammoth support from entire Jammu Province which irked the coalition government and in order to defuse the momentum the provisions of 144 Cr.P.C. were invoked. 

Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that throughout the agitation has remained peaceful and the minor incidents if any were on the provocation of the local police and he further submitted that the print/electronic media highlighted the brutality of the local police which did not even spare the President of the J&K High Court Bar Association who is also the Chairman of AIIMS Coordination Committee who was mercilessly beaten by the cops and not only this tear gas shells were also used against the protesting lawyers and other members of AIIMS Coordination Committee.

Advocate S.S. Ahmed submitted that the entire Jammu District has been covered under the restrictions of 144 Cr.P.C which clearly shows the non-application of mind and he further submitted that the discriminatory approach of the authorities is writ large as on one hand the Dharna of the AIIMS Coordination Committee was forcefully lifted from the original Dharna Site and on the other hand the authorities allowed the so called victory procession of the BJP thereby flouting the so called restrictions.   

At this stage Advocate Pranav Kohli (Vice-President of J&K High Court Bar Association) alongwith Advocate H.C. Jalmeria while buttressing the arguments of Advocate S.S. Ahmed vociferously argued that there is no satisfaction on the part of the District Magistrate Jammu and order impugned is bad in the eyes of law. Advocate Kohli requested the Court to stay the operation of the impugned order and allow the Association to invite the Jammu Public for Independence Day celebrations at the dharna site. He also requested the court to issue requisite orders for maintaining status quo in the matter as the peaceful dharna has already started on the Main High Court Road. He further submitted that the written assurance be obtained from the State Counsel for not causing any obstruction in the ongoing Dharna of the AIIMS Coordination Committee.

At this stage AAG Ahsan Mirza alongwith AAG Vishal Sharma appeared on behalf of the State and requested the Court that some time be given for filing response. Advocate Vishal Sharma submitted that the impugned order is valid and the petitioner if aggrieved can approach the District Magistrate Jammu for its recalling and upon such application the District Magistrate will pass appropriate orders. AAG Ahsan Mirza also submitted that the impugned order is on the basis of the inputs received from local police and there are numerous FIRs which have been taken into account by the District Magistrate Jammu while issuing the impugned order. At this stage Additional District Magistrate Jammu Ms. Riffat Kohli also caused appearance and sought time to place before the Court relevant records justifying the imposition of restrictions.

After hearing both the sides at length Justice Tashi Rabstan directed Secretary Home, DM and SSP Jammu to produce the records and also directed for filing of affidavits before the next date of hearing and looking into the urgency expressed by the petitioner Association Justice Tashi Rabstan fixed the matter on August, 14 this month. (CNS)

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