Not bad to have UAPA, problem of human rights violations settled: Jammu & Kashmir Advocate General DC Raina

Advocate General for Jammu & Kashmir DC Raina believes that after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, the issue of human rights is “settled.”
DC Raina, Jammu & Kashmir AG
DC Raina, Jammu & Kashmir AG

A man with 45 years of experience as a lawyer under his belt, Senior Advocate DC Raina became the first Advocate General of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir after it ceased to be a State in 2019.

He was initially appointed as the erstwhile State's top law officer in July 2018.

In this interview with Bar & Bench, Raina speaks on a host of issues concerning the valley and the legal complexities of the same.

The Advocate General believes that given the history and circumstances of the region, it is not bad to have a law like the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in place.

Raina also opined that the idea of having a Uniform Civil Code in the country is riddled with possible hurdles, and could be difficult to implement, given the nature of our “heterogeneous society.”

Even as the rest of the country and the world cry hoarse over human rights violations that continue to take place in Jammu & Kashmir, the AG believes that after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, the issue is “settled.”

Watch full interview below.

Below are edited excerpts from the interview.

The provisions of the UAPA continue to be invoked against individuals in Jammu & Kashmir. Do you think the law is still needed? How is the general public reacting to the laws which were not applicable to them earlier, now being used in the UT?

One needs to understand and appreciate that the erstwhile State and now Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir has been constantly under threat of militancy, invasion, intrusion and all kinds of activities which disturb the peace and tranquillity in the region.

Now, for keeping peace and tranquillity and moving further in all segments of life, it is necessary that some laws must always be there.

You see a lot of peace is there (since the abrogation of Article 370). Otherwise you will find every Friday or every now and then, stone pelting or other things were there. But now, if you come to the Valley, things are absolutely fine. Some stray incidents of militancy are there and time will take its own course.

But in the given set of circumstances, at this point of time, I don't think it is bad to have the UAPA.

You recently informed the High Court that more than 100 sanctions for prosecution have been issued against government servants in the last 3 years. Do you think the demand for accountability has increased since the abrogation of Article 370?

The first difference is that we have the Director General of Prosecution, which was not there earlier. We have an Anti-Corruption Bureau now and a General Administration Department.

Since these departments are coordinating with each other, the pace of sanctions has increased manifold. Earlier, there would be recommendations, names used to be pending, there used to be queries and then names were sent back.

Now, with this new set up, transparency has increased manifold. In 2020 and 2021, we had the highest number of sanctions. A number of cases are being launched in courts and there is definitely a change. The credit goes to the Lieutenant Governor who monitors (the situation) himself, especially the area of dereliction of duty or inefficiency.

As the senior-most law officer of the State, how do you view the human rights situation in J&K and how can it be improved? Reports suggest that targeted killing of civilians, including members of minority communities, continue unabated.

Right from 2010 onwards and upto 2019, just see the graph and how much violence has been there and then see after Reorganisation Act coming into force, and the erstwhile State becoming a Union Territory.

I simply put it to you, did you see any instance of stone pelting? Did you hear any news of lathi charge, or mob violence? So to a greater extent, the problem of human rights violations is settled and things are improving.

We are more than sure that things will certainly improve in the coming times. For concerns on human rights issues, we have the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the High Court, therefore there are checks and counter checks and it's not like things can go unabated. I can say that a lot of improvement has been there ever since the Reorganization Act came into force.

What are the hurdles in the way of the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code?

We are in a heterogeneous society and there are communities with their own rules, regulations, custom, procedure, faiths and religion. Thus, to reconcile everything under UCC is a little difficult in the given set of circumstances, and it should be kept open for times to come.

How have you adapted to the transition from physical to virtual courts? Do you see the need for any changes in the current system of virtual hearings?

Virtual hearings had some advantages but also carried a lot of difficulty. It depends on the place where you are living. Here. there is hilly terrain, far flung areas, inaccessible roads and a kind of poverty and illiteracy here in the UT of J&K.

Therefore, things to be noticed are that unless these facilities are available in all district headquarters, blocks, zones and people have access to it then and there, its purpose cannot be said to be useful.

But virtual courts kept the system alive and nothing came to a grinding halt. The judiciary has to keep moving and people must have recurring faith and trust. That's the benefit. It helped some people whereas it was very difficult for the people at the threshold to have that access.

Of course, physical hearing is more satisfactory for litigants, clients and people. Therefore, it will take more time for J&K to have full virtual hearing. It's a mixed response and a lot of decisions have been rendered during virtual hearing.

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