Justice Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi

Mufti-Baha-ud-din-FarooqiThe justice-turned-activist who shone in the murky nineties of Kashmir breathed his last recently. Known for his remarkable work in Kunan Poshpora mass-rape case, Justice Mufti Bahauddin Farooqi was a noted legal luminary and the erstwhile Chief Justice of J&K.

The deceased was the architect of Hurriyat constitution and was known for his contribution in the dispensation of justice in J&K. His demise was widely condoled. He was 87 and is survived by a daughter and three sons.

A law alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, the deceased started practice at district court Islamabad along with his friend and former chief minister of state, Mir Qasim. He later served as law secretary in the GM Sadiq’s government.

In 1971, he was elevated as high court judge. During his tenure, he passed a number of landmark judgments. His judgment regarding anti-defection was the first to be passed by any high court in India. The law became the basis for anti-defection law ratified by the Parliament of India. But the same law put him under tremendous pressure from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who wanted him to rule the judgement in their favour, but he refused the same.

Justice Farooqi was appointed as the 12th Chief Justice (CJ) of Jammu and Kashmir on March 7, 1983. But five months after in August 23, 1983, he resigned as CJ of J&K high court in protest to his transfer to Sikkim high court. He believed that New Delhi had no jurisdiction to transfer a J&K high court judge to any part of India as the state had a special status under Article 370.

He constituted first ever civil society after his resignation. Justice Farooqi served as chairman of the ‘Peoples Basic Rights Commission’, an independent body investigating human rights violations committed by Indian forces in Kashmir, and seeking their prosecution.

He led a fact-finding mission to Kunan Poshpora. Over the course of his investigation, he interviewed 53 women who claimed to have been raped by army men. And he tried to determine why a police investigation into the incident had never taken place.

On June 15, 1990, Barbara Crossette, a former New York Times correspondent, reported that Justice Farooqi and his son have begun documenting allegations of human and civil rights violations against Kashmiris.

Known for his integrity, Justice Farooqi went to court as a litigant to challenge the controversial laws like TADA and PSA in Kashmir soon after his retirement. He kept advocating right to self-determination till his breath.

– Bilal Handoo

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