J&K HC Bar Association President Mian Qayoom released after NIA summons
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J&K HC Bar Association President Mian Qayoom released after NIA summons

Aditya AK

President of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association (J&K HCBA) Mian Qayoom has returned to Srinagar after being summoned for questioning by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Lawyers of the Association had resolved to go on strike last week when Qayoom was taken in for questioning in an alleged terrorist funding case. They had boycotted court work for four consecutive days from September 4 to 7, and were supported by lawyers of all the District and Mufassil Bar Associations of Kashmir.

The High Court Bar Association also made a representation to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra pointing out the procedural oversight that occurred when the NIA summoned Qayoom. The notice was made under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the proviso to which states that persons over sixty-five years may be questioned at their residence. Qayoom, who is over 65 years of age, was directed to be present for questioning in Delhi.

This is not the first time in recent months that lawyers from the valley have been picked up by the authorities.

According to the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), the NIA had raided the houses of Advocate Devinder Singh Behl from Jammu in July, and Advocate Mohammed Shafi Resh in August. Another lawyer, Babur-ul-Islam Nehru, has been in custody since July 22.

Further, IAPL has alluded that the “targeting” of lawyers from the state has to be viewed in context of recent events. In July, the J&K HCBA had constituted a legal team to examine the constitutional validity of NIA Act, 2008 and its application to Jammu & Kashmir, and to suggest ways for providing legal aid to all those who have been booked by the NIA.

The J&K HCBA has also in the recent past taken a stand in the Supreme Court in the cases relating to use of pellet guns, and the constitutional validity of Article 35-A.

The IAPL release states,

“The Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) strongly condemns the illegal and unwarranted raid on the residence of advocate Resh and views the summons issued to the High Court Bar Association President, Mian Qayoom as an act to suppress, harass and demonise the Kashmiri lawyers in general and a Bar Association in particular. It is also an attempt by the NIA to browbeat the parties in the litigation process by attacking lawyers who have been staunch defenders of Article 35A of the Constitution of India and the rights of Kashmiri people.

IAPL demands, that the NIA immediately stop all raids, summons and criminal proceedings directed against Kashmiri lawyers in connection with FIR No. RC-10/2017/NIA/DIL. IAPL also extends its solidarity to the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri lawyers protesting against the unwarranted and unconstitutional authority of Delhi.”

Image taken from here.

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