Bar to Challenge NIA’s Authority in J&K

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Srinagar— Amid rampant arrests of separatist leaders by NIA, Kashmir lawyers’ body on Friday decided to file a petition before the J&K high court and it may challenge the constitutional validity of National Investigation Agency Act 2008 and its application to Jammu and Kashmir for which it has constituted a high powered legal team.

At least seven second-rung separatist leaders and activists have been arrested by the NIA on charges of “terror funding” even as it as summon at least 30 other Kashmiris including Naeem Geelani, the elder son of Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani.

The arrested leaders and activists include Nayeem Khan, Bitta Karate, Shahid-ul-Islam, Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Altaf Fantosh (son-in-law of Geelani), Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah and Raja Merajuddin Kalwal. 

 “Recognizing the gravity of the situation, which has arisen in J&K State, due to NIA raids and arrest and detention of pro-freedom (separatist) leadership and their activists and also their subsequent dragging to Delhi, the J&K High Court Bar Association Srinagar has constituted a high powered legal team to examine the constitutional validity of NIA Act 2008 and its application to the State of J&K,” a spokesman of the lawyers’ body—Kashmir High Court Bar Association— said in statement after its executive committee meeting called to “discuss various issues concerning the people of Kashmir, more particularly the one, relating to the misuse of the provisions of the NIA Act by the NIA authorities, in terrorizing, arresting, humiliating and harassing the pro-freedom leadership and their activists in Kashmir. 

The team comprises four senior lawyers—Z. A. Shah, Z. A. Qureshi, Bashir Ahmad Bashir and R. A. Jan— and other noted advocates including Altaf Haqani, Mushtaq Ahmad Makhdoomi, Syed Manzoor, G. A. Lone, Arshad Andrabi, Nazir Ahmad Ronga, Reyaz Khawar and Mohammad Shafi Reshi.

The 12-member team has also been tasked to suggest ways and means for providing necessary legal aid to all those who have been booked in case (FIR No. RC-10/2017/NIA/DIL) by NIA.

The lawyers’ body also underlined that a ‘full court’ of J&K High Court in terms of its resolution on 29 May 2010, has designated Courts under TADA/POTA at Jammu and Kashmir as Special Courts under section 11 of the NIA Act 2008 for the trial of schedule offences.

“The NIA could have very easily produced all the alleged accused persons before the courts in Srinagar instead of taking them to Delhi,” the spokesman said.

Underlining that issue has “far reaching consequences”, the lawyers body has urged the team to hold its sitting immediately and finalize the filing of “an appropriate petition before the High Court, as expeditiously as possible.”

Meanwhile, the lawyers’ body has also expressed concern over the extension of Statistical Data Bill to J&K and described it as “one more attempt by the government of India to impose its authority and perpetuate its hold on Kashmir by use of dubious methods.”

It also announced to make the people aware about the consequences, “which will flow by the extension of the bill to the State of J&K.”

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