SrinagarThe Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday granted state government more time for filing response to a Public Interest Litigation, seeking direction to make public the report by the one-man Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by Justice (retd) M L Koul into the killings during 2010 unrest.
As the hearing of the PIL started, a division bench recalled that six weeks’ time was granted to the senior Additional Advocate General for filing requisite status report with a condition that he will not pray for any further extension of time. Requisite status report not filed, the court said. However, the senior AAG produced a communication dated 19 March 2018 addressed to him by the Deputy Secretary to Government, Home Department, which reveals that Justice M. L. Koul (Retired Judge), One Man Commission of Enquiry had submitted the report which was examined in consultation with the General Administration Department, PHQ, ADGP, CID and DC, Srinagar. Based on the consultation and the inputs, details furnished by the concerned, the matter has been referred to the General Administration Department for placing the same before the Cabinet, it reads.
The senior AAG sought further time for filing the status report. (The status report) be filed by or before next date, the court said and took copy of the communication on record.
Appointment by former NC-Congress government, Justice (retd) Koul had submitted the report to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on December 30 last year, few days ahead of the last concluded budget session of the states legislature.
Besides making the report public, the PIL also seeks the directions to the state government to implement the recommendations of the Koul Commission including those regarding grant of compensation to the victim families. It also seeks directions to the government to submit the action taken report with respect to findings of the Commission before the Court.
The Commission was appointed on 20 June 2014, little over a month after then ruling alliance suffered drubbing in Lok Sabha elections with all its candidates losing race to Indian parliament.
The CoI was tasked to enquire into the circumstances leading to deaths by firing, or otherwise, during maintenance of law and order in different districts of valley, during 2010
Besides, it had been asked to find out the adequacy, or otherwise, of the force used; fix responsibility, wherever excessive force has been used; suggest measures to avert the recurrence of such incidents in future; and recommend the action to be taken against person(s) or authorities.
The PIL has been submitted by Peoples’ Forum through its General Secretary M. M. Shuja and he has referred to media reports, suggesting that the report has pin pointed the responsibilities apart from making several recommendations to redress the grievance of the victim families, kin of whom were either killed or injured during the unrest.
The recommendations also include strict guidelines for crowd control and award of compensation to the families of those killed in action of government forces, he says.
A portion of the report has been leaked to the media but the State has not till date made the report public and none of the recommendations have been implemented, Shuja says in the plea filed before the court through advocate Shafqat Nazir.
The state has not so far either made the report public or disclosed as to what action it has taken or contemplated to be taken to mitigate the sufferings of the victims with the result that the society at large carries an impression that constitution of such commission is an exercise in futility. Such impression is not only detrimental to the peace and security in the state but also speaks volumes about the transparency and accountability of the system and of those managing the system, he says.
The state government, he says, was under a constitutional obligation to make the report public so that any lapse pointed out in the report was taken note of. By keeping the public at large in dark the state is indulging in gross abuse of process of law and trying to shield those who may have been held guilty by the commission, he says.
More than 120 people, mostly bystanders, were killed by police and paramilitary CRPF personnel in Kashmir Valley in 2010.
Had the report been filed on time and the recommendations implemented, the unrest of 2016 and the continuing disturbance in the Valley could have been averted, he said.
The Commission was asked to submit its report to the government within three months from the date of issuance of the formal notificationJune 20, 2014.
Justice Koul commission was appointed, superseding the CoI headed by two former judges of High Court, Justice (retd) Syed Bashir-ud-Din and Justice (retd) YP Nagrota for probing the killing of 17 youth in police and paramilitary CRPF firing. The Commission, appointed (vide notification SRO-283 on June 26, 2010) had a life span of three months from the date of issuance of the notification and it expired on October 29, 2010.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.