News Notes

Five Judges APPOINTED

With the appointment of five new judges the shortage of judges in state is likely to come to an end. With the filling up of five vacant posts, the strength of judges in the state High Court will increase from existing 7 to 12 against the total sanctioned strength of 14.

Sources said the state Judiciary needed at least 20 new judges as the total number of cases pending in the High Court and subordinate courts in Jammu and Kashmir are said to have touched over 2.38 lakhs and one of the reasons stated is paucity of judges.

As far as the High court is concerned, there are over 53,000 civil suits and 2232 criminal cases pending.

The five newly appointed judges include, from lawyers’ quota, Additional Advocate General Ali Muhammad Magray, senior High Court lawyer Dheeraj Singh Thakur were appointed as permanent judges while as senior lawyer Tashi Rabstan from Leh was administered oath as Additional Judge. Special Judge CBI Court, Jammu, Bansi Lal Bhat and Member J&K Special Tribunal, Jammu, Janak Raj Kotwal, both from judges’ quota, were also taken oath as Additional Judges.

President Pranab Mukherjee had approved appointment of five new judges for Jammu and Kashmir High Court on February 21.

Earlier, on November 3 last year, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India, Justice Altamas Kabir, had cleared six names recommended by the state government for filling up vacant posts in Jammu and Kashmir High Court. However, Prime Minister dropped the name of Advocate Azhar-ul-Amin and forwarded only five names to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. After the necessary clearance, the five names were forwarded to the Law Ministry.

Five newly appointed judges were administered oath by Chief Justice of JK, MM Kumar, in High Court Complex Jammu.

Suffocating PEPPER

After repeated complaints by the residents of Srinagar, Baseer Ahmed Khan, district development commissioner, Srinagar has reacted and furnished a “factual report” from the authorities of J&K Police whether the pepper grenades were used or not. “Your [SP North] reply in the matter must reach to this office within one day,” reads a copy of the letter shot by the DDC.

The letter was shot in response of a complaint filed by the President Masjid Hamzah Rathpora, Laigaridora Eidgah before the DDC, Srinagar in which people had alleged that during “de-induction of troops on 6th of March, 2013 pepper grenades were fired in the locality resulting in serious health problems to the residents especially the women folk.”

However, as of now the police and paramilitary forces are denying that they are using these grenades to disperse crowd.

Despite repeated directives of State Human Right Commission, police and CRPF personnel allegedly continue to use pepper gas in various areas in Srinagar to disperse the crowd from the streets.

Residents of the city are continuously complaining about the suffocation caused by the usage of this gas in their areas especially in the older people, women and infants. They even claim that this gas is responsible for many deaths in their area.

Recently, Hajira, 65, wife of Ghulam Hassan of Safa Kadal, already a patient of chest ailment died due to excessive use of pepper gas by J&K police and paramilitary forces in their area, her family alleges. The gas had adverse effect on her health which caused her death, they added.

Hajira’s son alleges that excessive use of pepper gas by police and CRPF in their locality has resulted in his mother’s death. He demanded stern action against allegedly involved persons and registration of culpable homicide case against them.

Earlier, the residents of Safa Kadal and the adjoining areas of Nawakadal, Kawdara, Rajouri kadal had been complaining about the suffocation caused by the excessive use of pepper gas but no authority as responded so far.

Inquires New and OLD

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has assured justice to the family of Tahir Ahmad Sofi, 26, from Baramulla who was killed in army firing but has supposedly forgotten about the previous promises that he failed to keep.

On 28 December, 2011 seven people were injured when army personnel fired on the civilians in Pulwama who were protesting the killing of two local militants in an encounter in the area. After the incident the government ordered magisterial inquiry and formed an inquiry team led by Mir Tariq, additional deputy commissioner, Pulwama.

Though the inquiry team was asked to complete the probe within 15 days but it has been more than two months and the results are yet to come.

“Since the inquiry team failed to complete the probe within the stipulated time of 15 days due to the tension in the town for at least a week after the incident the team sought extension of one month which was granted to it. However despite given extension the probe committee again missed the deadline in completing the process. The inquiry team after missing the second deadline sought one more month for finishing the probe. The team is now supposed to submit the report to the government by March 15,” said the official sources.

Additional deputy commissioner, Mir Tariq, who is heading the inquiry team, said that the delay was caused as one of the army personal injured during the clashes failed to record his statement. The army personnel was shifted out of state for the treatment, he added.

“The investigation is going on smoothly and completion of the same is just away the recording of his (Army personal) statement,” the inquiry officer said.

Meanwhile, minister of defence, A.K. Antony, today told Rajya Sabha that an enquiry into the firing incident of December 28 at Pulwama in J&K has been ordered and no compensation has been paid as yet. He revealed this in response to a question by National Conference (NC) MP Ghulam Nabi Ratanpuri.

COALITION WINS 4, PDP 1 Seat

The coalition again had a clean sweep by winning four out of five seats of the Legislative Council. It was for the first time in 62 years that LC polls were held through open ballot in Jammu and Kashmir. For Kashmir seats 87.64 percent voting was recorded as out of 89 members, 78 cast their votes. Similarly 83.15 percent voting was recorded for Doda reserved seat as 74 members cast their votes.

Upper House has a total strength of 36 members out of which only two seats reserved for Urban Local Bodies are presently vacant. The four LC seats reserved under Panchayat quota were filled for the first time in the past three decades last December.

At least six former bureaucrats managed to secure berths in the Upper House over the past few years by this election. Three former Chief Secretaries of J&K, BR Kundal, Vijay Bakaya and Sheikh Ghulam Rasool are among already the members of the Upper House.

Out of four seats from Kashmir, three were bagged by ruling coalition candidates Showkat Hussain Ganai (NC) securing 17 votes, Abdul Majid Bhat (NC) securing 16 votes and Advocate Muzaffar Parray (Congress) securing 17 votes. And another seat in Kashmir was bagged by the opposition PDP Naeem Akhtar Andrabi who got 19 votes.

Similarly, the reserved seat of Doda was also swept by the candidate of ruling coalition Naresh Gupta (Congress) with the margin of 26 votes. He got 50 votes against his lone contender Muhammad Iqbal of National Panther Party (NPP).

The lone independent candidate Shiban Krishen Dudha, who was being backed by PDP, NPP and BJP, failed to make through because the seven expelled MLAs of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) preferred to abstain from voting. Independent MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid, Ashwani Sharma of JSM, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami of CPI (M) and Hakeem Yasin also preferred to stay away giving an edge to the coalition candidates from Valley.

Eight seats fell vacant in the Upper House but three were filled up without any contest. Rani Biloria of Congress, Devender Singh Rana of National Conference and Yashpal Sharma of PDP were declared elected on three Jammu seats as there was no candidate left in fray.

In the 36 member House, National Conference has the highest strength of 15 members followed by its coalition partner, Congress having 14 members. The opposition PDP has four members and JKNPP has one member.

HCC’s tunnel COLLAPSED

A 40 m stretch of about 600-700 m long tunnel collapsed two days before its formal inauguration in Uri.

The tunnel is part of a ‘Uri hydroelectric stage II’ project. It is a centrally sponsored project having a contract value of Rs 575 crore. The project includes construction of a dam, an underground power house (240 MW), a Head Race Tunnel (HRT), a Tail Race Tunnel (TRT), a diversion tunnel, a surge shaft and a pressure shaft.

The project in Uri is handled by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), a Mumbai based Construction Company. It started working in 2005 and had to complete it by September 2009. It has been two years since then and the project is yet to get completed.

The collapsed tunnel had put the lives of about 150 people on risk as they were caught inside it.

“When the tunnel collapsed, it had a similar effect of earthquake that came in year 2005,” said a labour working inside the tunnel.

The labours working inside the tunnel were rescued by their colleagues and there was no loss of life but about 15 taxi sumos are still stuck inside the tunnel under the debris.

Besides, the population of 2500 people living in four villages, Isham, Chakra, Dardkot and Aroosa, have appealed to the SDM, Uri to shift them to other safe places as this tunnel collapse has developed cracks in their houses and is likely to cause more damage, they allege. The four villages are located a few kilometres above the construction site.

Sources say that the SDM after having the report of the incident has directed the concerned SDPO to file an FIR against the HCC. The residents and the labour allege that the construction company has used sub-standard material in the construction and are expecting that the entire constructed structure will collapse sooner or later.

Women not safe in VALLEY

In a shocking revelation it was observed that nearly 9634 cases of rape, kidnapping and molestation were registered in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

As per the figures submitted by the state government in the legislative council and assembly the graph has shown steep hike during the last three years with 2763 cases registered in 2010, 3, 330 in 2011 and 3541 in 2012.

In 2010 around 243 rape cases were registered, while 1037 FIRs were lodged for molestation. Similarly, 850 cases of kidnapping and 262 cases of eve teasing were registered.

In 2011, 3,330 cases of crimes against women were registered including 2,337 in Kashmir division and 933 cases in Jammu. These include 111 rape cases in Kashmir and 273 rape cases registered in Jammu.

Besides that the number includes 1, 041 cases of kidnapping in the state (730 in Kashmir and 311 in Jammu division) and four cases of gang rape.

In the same year, 1,194 molestation cases were also registered throughout the state which includes 968 cases in Kashmir division and 226 in Jammu. 351 cases of eve-teasing were also registered in the state during 2011, which include 240 in Kashmir and 111 in Jammu, besides 11 cases of dowry deaths in Jammu.

It has been reported that abetment of suicide (if the victim is woman), stood at 167 in 2011 (100 in Kashmir and 67 in Jammu) while cases involving cruelty perpetrated by husbands was 286 (83 in Kashmir and 203 in Jammu).

While as in 2012, the number showed a steep with 3, 543 registered cases including 2, 373 cases from Kashmir and 1, 170 from Jammu. It included over 300 rape cases- 178 in Jammu and 122 in Kashmir, the number of kidnapping cases stood at 1059- 696 in Kashmir and 363 in Jammu division.

The number of molestation cases registered in the state was 1322- 1078 in Kashmir and 244 in Jammu. Regarding eve-teasing 347 cases were registered which included 243 in Kashmir and 104 in Jammu, besides 8 cases of dowry deaths in Jammu. Cases of abetment of suicide (if the victim is woman), stood at 199 in 2012 (122 in Kashmir and 77 in Jammu) while cases involving cruelty perpetrated by husbands stood at 495 (301 in Kashmir and 194 in Jammu) during 2012.

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