A Division Bench of the Srinagar High Court Tuesday, issued notices on a petition filed by five survivors of the Kunan Poshpora mass rape and torture case of 23/24 February 1991. The petition seeks the constitution of a special investigation team headed by an officer above the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police, and monitoring of the said investigations by the High Court.
The Division Bench comprising of the Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Muzzaffar Hussain Attar issued notice to all seventeen of the named respondents including Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, Union of India and nine army officers allegedly involved in the operation in Kunan Poshpora (Colonel K.S Dalal and eight others) of the 4 Rajputana Rifles.
Notice has also been issued to BG Verghese (former member of Press Council of India) and Wajahat Habibullah (then Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir) who have been accused of playing an “integral role in the cover up” of the case.
The Court recorded the contentions of the survivors that no proper investigations had been carried out to date by SP Kupwara, Abdul Jabbar and that the Government had in response to a RTI claimed that the survivors were not entitled to any compensation, since there was no ex–gratia or compensation scheme in existence for rape victims in 1991.
The Court issued a show cause to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, asking it to file a status report on the investigations into the case, and the decision taken by the Government set up High Level Committee on compensation to the survivors, which had taken a view adverse to the victims, that they were not entitled to any relief. The matter was adjourned to July 1, 2014.
Before passing orders, the Court heard detailed arguments on behalf of the survivors. Counsel for the survivors took the court through the history of the case in the High Court, State Human Rights Commission and the Kupwara courts. Counsel emphasized that despite the order of further investigations by the Judicial Magistrate, Kupwara dated 18 June 2013, the SP Kupwara, Abdul Jabbar had not carried out any substantive investigations within the stipulated time of three months, and had instead repeatedly sought extensions, without notice to the survivors.