Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) Thursday said that Justice Tashi Rabstan, vacation judge in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Srinagar, in a petition filed by the army, stayed the ongoing investigations in the Kunan Poshpora mass rape and torture case of 23/24 February 1991.
“The Indian army by filing its petition before the vacation judge, five months after the Sessions Court order of 8 August 2014 [that affirmed the Sub-judicial magistrate, Kupwara order of 18 June 2013 for further investigations], has clearly sought to use the judiciary to shield itself. First, there is no reason why this petition could not have been filed during the earlier session of the High Court. Second, the Indian army is already a party to the petition that the survivors filed in the High Court seeking court-monitored investigations,” a spokesman of JKCCS said in a statement.
“This petition is being heard by a division bench of the High Court that has treated the petition as a PIL. The Indian army has sought to extract a stay on investigations from a vacation judge despite the division bench already having passed orders including on status of investigations in the case. Further, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has also approached the Supreme Court against the High Court orders directing payment of compensation. This move to the Supreme Court followed a dramatic change of position by the government that had earlier agreed to pay compensation. This change of position, seen in light of the Indian army petition seeking stay of investigations, suggests that the Indian army is doing all it can to ensure that there is impunity for its personnel,” he claimed.