Govt drags feet on life-sentences

Can’t Challenge Judiciary: Law Minister; Government Has Power To Withdraw Cases: Legal Experts

CONCERN

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Dec 13: Notwithstanding simmering discontent against the recent life-sentences to two Kashmir youth, the J&K Government seems to be dragging its feet on the issue with Law Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar Thursday stating that “they can’t challenge judiciary” and the “convicts should approach the higher forums like High Court or the Supreme Court to file an appeal, if they wish so.”
“Judiciary is an independent institution in J&K. The government can’t challenge the court verdicts,” Sagar told Greater Kashmir. He said the issue of life-sentences to Kashmiris is “debatable.” “But the convicts should approach the high forums like High Court or for that matter the Supreme Court to file an appeal, if they wish so,” he said.
Pertinently, Kashmir has recently witnessed protests and shutdown against the life-sentence to two Srinagar youth, Sheikh Nazir Ahmad and Showkat Ahmed, by a TADA court recently.
Legal experts, however, say the Government doesn’t have to challenge the court verdicts “but withdraw the cases against the people facing life-sentences.” “Government has the power to withdraw the cases against the people who have been slapped with life-sentence. Though there are some legalities involved, the government can take a considered decision on the lines of rehabilitation policy for youth who wanted to return from Pakistan Administered Kashmir,” said Senior Counsel, Zafar Shah. He said the Government should take the decision keeping in view that the people (facing life-sentence) were ‘child-soldiers’ in 1984 and 1988. “If government takes a decision about withdrawal of cases, the final authority to accept that still would lie with the Court,” Shah said.
He said though the Supreme Court has made it clear that “life-sentence means life-long imprisonment”, it has also stated that the “Government can roll back the cases.” Shah said he would soon file an appeal against life sentences slapped on Kashmiris.  “We will be filing a strong appeal and let us hope for the best,” he said.
According to JKLF, 29 life sentences were slapped on Kashmiris in the past one and a half year of which 11 were announced by the J&K Courts alone.  The party has threatened jail bharo movement if life-sentences were not scrapped forthwith. It has received support from the various separatist leaders including both factions of Hurriyat Conference on the movement.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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