'Attacks Govt Over Abrogation Of Art. 370 In Garb Of PIL': Jammu & Kashmir High Court Imposes 10K Cost On Law Graduate

Update: 2021-09-25 06:30 GMT

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has dismissing a PIL seeking reopening of State Human Rights Commission, Women Commission, and Accountability Commission in Jammu & Kashmir for adjudication of pending complaints. The Court observed that the plea was politically motivated, and targeted the Government over abrogation of Article 370."The averments made in the petition reveal...

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The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has dismissing a PIL seeking reopening of State Human Rights Commission, Women Commission, and Accountability Commission in Jammu & Kashmir for adjudication of pending complaints. The Court observed that the plea was politically motivated, and targeted the Government over abrogation of Article 370.

"The averments made in the petition reveal that the petitioner is not really interested in the establishment of the above foras but to attack the government over the deletion of the special status granted to the J&K," a Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal observed.

It added,

"He has targeted the government by alleging cases of army brutality being on the rise in the Union Territory, applicability of draconian laws, hike of the unknown gunman culture in the Union Territory ever since the abrogation of Article 370, making of the Kashmir region into a complete war zone and of significant youth unrest in the Union Territory after the scrapping of Article 370."

Observing that such averments scandalize the court, the Bench imposed token cost of Rs. 10,000 on the Petitioner.

"All the above facts in the manner as stated are highly critical of Government as if the petitioner is not before a legal forum but on a political platform. The petitioner by making the above averments tends to scandalize the court so as to score a political mileage," said the Court.

Background

Claiming to be a law student, Nikhil Padha approached the Court to reopen the pending matters in the State Human Rights Commission, Women Commission, and Accountability Commission. The plea states that a total of 765 cases are pending before the SHRC alone in these commissions, out of which 267 cases are against the military, para-military, and police forces.

The plea alleged that the institutions above have been closed down since the abrogation of Article 370.

Findings

Taking a note of the language used in the petition, the Court observed that it appears to have been drafted on behalf of more than one person as the sole petitioner has been shown as Petitioner 1, and plural forms have been used to refer to the petitioner. Having observed so, the Court noted that the petition as initially drafted was on behalf of more than one person, but hurriedly the names of the other petitioners were removed for the reasons not known.

The petitioner stated himself to be a recent law graduate from Jammu University, on which the Court noted,

"We fail to understand how a law student or who has passed law recently can be recognized as an ardent human rights activist as proclaimed by the petitioner. The petitioner has not disclosed any of his activity which may indicate that he is actually involved in the protection human rights of the citizens or that he is an acclaimed human rights activist despite his tender age."

Therefore, the Court remarked it so appears that the petitioner is not a bonafide person and has been put as a proxy person by someone else to initiate this litigation in the public interest.

It also noted that the petitioner's demeanor while presenting the case reflected that he had been set up politically to unnecessarily make out the international issues of human rights violations.

It further observed that the averments made in the petition reveal that the petitioner is not interested in the establishment of the above foras but to attack the Government over the deletion of the special status granted to the J&K. It remarked,

"He has targeted the Government by alleging cases of army brutality being on the rise in the Union Territory, applicability of draconian laws, hike of the unknown gunman culture in the Union Territory ever since the abrogation of Article 370, making of the Kashmir region into a complete war zone and of significant youth unrest in the Union Territory after the scrapping of Article 370. He has also referred to the big win of Gupkar Alliance in the recent DDC elections."

Referring to Seema Upadhyay v. Union of India (2018), the Court noted that that "PIL is not a Pill for every ill" and it should not be entertained if the bona fides of the persons are in doubt.

The Court referred Manohar Lal Sharma v. Sanjay Leela Bhansali (2018) to reason that a PIL cannot be allowed to be filed to abuse the process of law and if the pleadings are vexatious, misconceived, unfounded, and untenable.

Reiterating the principle laid by the apex court in Vishwanath Chaturvedi v. Union of India (2007), the Court noted that when a political rival complains against the other political party or person, it would not be bonafide litigation at the behest of the opponent and that such petitions in public interest ought not to be entertained.

On the prayer seeking issuance of mandamus, the Court noted that the petitioner should have first approached the relevant competent authorities for satisfying his grievances and then, in case of any grievance, invoked the extraordinary discretionary jurisdiction of the High Court.

On the question of pending cases before the wounded up State Human Rights Commission, the Court observed,

"It may be worth noting that none of the complainants of the pending cases have ever approached this Court for the adjudication of their claims pending before the J&K Human Rights Commission, which has been wound up."

The Court, however, expressed that the State-respondents must take respective steps in the right earnest for the revival of the above institutions at the earliest.

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