The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association has written an open letter to the Chief Justice of India, explaining the reasons behind strike called over the summoning of Bar President Mian Qayoom to the headquarters of National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Here is the full text of the letter:
Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India,
1. It is shocking, sad but important to bring to your kind notice reason of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association having decided to go on strike.
2. The President of the Bar Association Mr. Mian Abdul Qayoom has been summoned by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with RC No: 10/2017/NIA/DLI. Apparently, the President of the Bar Association has been summoned as a witness but we have reason to believe that there is more than what meets the eye. We say so because notice has been issued under Section 160 Cr.P.C., Proviso whereof requires The NIA/investigating agency to record the statement of a witness at his place of residence if he/she is less than 15 or more than 65 Years of age. Mr. Mian Abdul Qayoom admittedly is more than 65 Years of age, he could have very easily taken the benefit of the said proviso. Instead he has volunteered himself to appear before NIA along with 8 members of the J&K High Court Bar Association at New Delhi, as he has nothing to hide.
3. That the aforesaid FIR is an open-ended FIR. It is based on suo-moto action. The NIA has arrested several persons and has also summoned scores of people in connection with the investigation.
4. Mian Abdul Qayoom is a known figure in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and has been in practice for last more than four decades. Having come from a humble background he has gradually arisen by dint of his hard work in the profession. He continues to be in active practice. Law Journals published from Srinagar demonstrate the kind of cases he has pleaded before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. It is his belief, based on constitutional history of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, that Kashmir dispute is in urgent need of a solution. The need has intensified by the events which have occurred in the State for last several decades in particular from 1990. Thousands of people have disappeared, eliminated, jailed, scores of women have been raped, private properties worth crores destroyed. Civil unrest in the State has brought to standstill life of the people. Day in and day out gruesome events are reported in the Newspapers, scores of statements are published and there is a strong urge of the common people to ask for peace, dialogue and the resolution of the dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the people.
5. Mian Abdul Qayoom represents the voice of the people and has been fairly active in pleading their cases in Conferences, Seminars, courts etc. More recent are the cases pending before Supreme Court of India like ban on use of pellet guns. The cases of detenues who have been jailed in contravention of law for last several years are also being argued by him before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir.
6. For quite some time now a new policy has emerged of involving men of consequence in criminal cases so as to prevent them from urging the cause of the people. People are first summoned as witnesses and thereafter by sheer manipulation of the material, gathered during investigation, arrayed as accused and jailed, for Years together even in some cases without trial. Though as legal practitioners we are told that an accused is innocent till proved guilty, but it is also a part of malicious campaign that media is fed with false information so as to give wide publicity projecting an innocent person in dark light. The design to malign respectable people is betrayed by the false information given on social media and on the network of some paid TV Channels, where false propaganda is made about the property owned and possessed by an established lawyer. This is a situation, when only notice to appear as a witness has been issued, that the media is asked to malign person to the maximum possibility so as to prejudice the mind of the public against the individual.
7. To keep the record straight, the association states that Mian Abdul Qayoom does not own directly, indirectly or otherwise any property in the areas of Jammu, Hyderpora, Peerbagh, Zakura, Lal Bazar, Lasjan, Pantha Chowk, shopping complex at an unknown place, as is being publicly stated on the social network. With more than four decades of lucrative practice at his back it is impossible to think that he cannot own even a house or a land or some property. Mian Abdul Qayoom is regular Income Tax payer. Being a God-fearing person he does not contaminate his honest earnings with any kind of bad money. His children are educated and have independent sources of income. Virtually the entire family lives together and are in the same vicinity. His brothers also live close by.
8. We are constrained to address this communication to you because we consider it important that public opinion must grow against uncalled for and unwarranted malicious campaign, state apparatus is resorted to against its people. The Bar Association feels that there is no other way against such state sponsored actions. Initiation of legal proceedings is not ruled out but at the same time it is a time-consuming as well as life consuming process and by the time people know the truth, the damage is done.
9. This communication is intended to appeal to the right-thinking people, who we believe, continue to uphold values of truth and justice. We believe that the right thinking people should rise to the occasion and make known their voice of conscience. The members of the Association who have known Mian Abdul Qayoom for last several decades can safely say that he has not contravened any law. His only guilt is that he is one of the front runners in seeking resolution of Kashmir dispute. His statements, writings, activities all have a common theme i.e. the people of State of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering, because of the non resolution of the Kashmir dispute and the issue needs to be addressed by all the stake holders so that peace returns to the State and the new generation has not to struggle for second freedom.
We hope that this communication addressed by the Association will help the addressees in sharing true and correct perspective. Today it may not look important because somebody else is involved but what is in store for future one does not know. It is always advisable to arrest new techniques under changed circumstances and this can only be done by a powerful public voice.
We urge you to be part of it.
J&K High Court Bar Association,