SRINAGAR More than seven months ago, a youth Mukthar Ahmad Bhat of Shopian was booked by police under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His 70-year-old father, Abdul Jabar travels all the way from South Kashmir district to reach special court in Srinagar with a hope to get his son released on bail in consonance with two cardinal principles of lawbail is the rule and jail the exception, and a person is innocent till found guilty. Frail, Abdul Jabbar finds it very hard to travel as well as bear the expenses regularly to get justice.
From the last several months, I have been traveling to Srinagar to get the bail of my only son but every time Im told that it will take time as the turn for the bail application of my son is yet to come, Jabar said while speaking to Kashmir Observer.
Abdul Jabbars fight for justice is just an example among hundreds of bail applications pending before the special court, the only court designated to hear the pleas under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) 1967.
For the purpose of the trial of offenses under the Act, Department of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs On March 1 notified the Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge as Special Court.
Invoking powers under the National Investigation Agency Act, the government designated the court of additional district and sessions judge Srinagar (TADA/POTA) for trying cases under the law, which deals with militancy-related offenses and anti-national activities.
The NIA Acts section 22 empowers the state government to constitute one or more special courts for trial of offenses under any or all the enactments specified in the schedule.
I dont know why my brother was booked under UAPA. Its has been more than 4 months, his bail application is pending in the TADA court, said another man from Pulwama.
According to sources, with only solitary special court constituted to deal with cases under the Act, a large number of cases, particularly bail applications are pending before it. Approximately 900 bail pleas are pending adjudication due to overburdening of the court. Also, hundreds of challans and remand cases are pending disposal before the court, sources said.
Advocate Shafqat Hussain, who deals with most of the cases, says that there was only one judge and its not possible for a single person to deal with so many cases.
I must say the judge is doing a wonderful job but what can he do in view of the huge pile of the cases, Shafqat said.
He said there should be at least three courts for the purpose, at-least one each in South, Center, and North Kashmir. The best case scenario, he said, would have been to confer powers to sessions court at the district level and it would have served the purpose.
In most of the cases, the police fail to get the accused as result the trail goes on and on, Shafqat says.
Another Lawyer who also deals with UAPA cases says that its very frustrating for the accused and their family members.
People from the remote areas of Kupwara, Handwara, Qazigund and other parts of South Kashmir has have to travel to Srinagar court for the trial. Their cases are pending for a long time, Advocate Mir Urfi said.
She says its also difficult for the police to ferry the accused from different parts of the Valley to Srinagar.