The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) was on Monday barred from holding any elections until it clarified its position on terming Kashmir a disputed territory and was also asked to submit its relevant documents to the Srinagar deputy commissioner, including the article of association and registration papers.
Imposing prohibitory orders in the district court complex here, Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Iqbal Choudhury issued three notices to the president of the bar association asking them to explain its Constitution which terms Kashmir a disputed area.
There are two bar associations functioning in Jammu and Kashmir — one from Kashmir and one from Jammu. Both of these associations have been at loggerheads with each other, especially on certain political issues.
The district administration asked them to explain its stand citing the constitution of the JKHCBA. One of the objectives of the constitution is "to find ways and means, take steps, for resolving the issues concerning the public at large, including larger issue of peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute…"
The bar also allows its members to organise seminars, conventions, delegate its members to various places within and outside India, to become members of other association, bodies or forums which share a common outlook with JKHCBA.
The district magistrate asked the office bearers that they are "required to explain your position on the subject since it's not in consonance with the Constitution of India whereby Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country and not a dispute, and also in conflict with The Advocates Act of 1961…" the notice issued by the deputy commissioner said.
The bar has also been asked to submit a certificate issued by the competent authority.
The certificate "is required to be produced indicating the date of issuance of such registration, article and association, registered office, executive body, and validity of registration among other details," the notice said.
It said that the district magistrate had also received representation from advocates of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court wherein serious allegations have been levelled and concerns raised regarding the election process and its motive.
"Therefore, after having considered the issue contained… And in absence of response from the JKHCBA on the serious matter (in) relation to sovereignty and integrity of the country….It is hereby ordered that the conduct of election to JKHCBA shall not be allowed" till it clarified its position.
The district magistrate also said that the senior superintendent of police has also furnished a "detailed report" raising serious concerns and apprehension of the situation having a bearing on multiple aspects.
The district magistrate also imposed section 144 of CrPC in premises of district court complex in Srinagar.
In view of the police report, non-response of JKHCBA on "critical issue" of integrity and sovereignty of the country, the district magistrate issued prohibitory orders directing that no gathering of four and more persons shall be allowed in the premises of district court complex or any other place till further order.