Wednesday, August 22, 2018
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Supreme Court’s Displeasure - A moment of truth for the legal fraternity

By B L Saraf

Supreme Court has expressed displeasure at an affidavit filed by Jammu and Kashmir’s lawyers’ body listing the accession of Kashmir to India as “ mysterious “and “controversial “, “ rigged elections “ and “ catch and kill “ policy of security personnel as “ historical reasons “ for the street violence and protests in Kashmir . As reported , some days back the Supreme Court , while dealing with a petition filed by the High Court Bar Associating Srinagar raising the plea of “ extensive use “ of pellet guns by the security forces for “ crowd control “ , told the petitioner “ We are slightly shocked at the affidavit filed by you . How is it relevant for this special leave petition ( questioning the use of pellet guns in Kashmir ) …. This is mysterious .”
It may be recalled that in July the Supreme Court had offered to set stage for peace talks between influential voices in Kashmir and the Centre to facilitate the return of peace to the Valley . Nonetheless , the then Chief Justice Of India , J S Khehar had cautioned the petitioner including the Bar association of futility of the exercise : “ If you suggest secession , chances for talks are finished . Nothing will happen . But if your suggestions are something within the frame work of the Constitution , then we can help .” The court had asked the stake holders in Kashmir to “ take two steps back “ and ensure no stones are thrown nor are pellets fired on streets of Kashmir .

To my mind the Style of The J & K Lawyers body is a misnomer . Because , in J&K we don’t one ( Pan –State ) lawyers body which would genuinely own this Style and claim to speak for all the members of legal fraternity practicing law across the regions . Particularly so , when issues which have a profound bearing on the integrity of nation are raked up . Whiles as lawyers Organization in Jammu region is , apparently , rooted in the nationalistic moorings , the one based in Srinagar has , seemingly , no inhibitions in espousing cause of separatism . Well , a rare unanimity , though , may be seen when issues related to their profession confront them .

The divide is visible . Driven by its nationalistic outlook , the High Court Bar Association ,Jammu has come out ,publicly , in favor of the observations made by the Apex Court , disapproving conduct of the Srinagar based lawyers organization . So , the impression must be dispelled that all the lawyers of state have an issue with the state’s accession with India . In fact Bar Association Jammu has , rightly so , described accession of J &K with the Indian Dominion as legal and irrevocable .
It is elementary ethics . Legal profession has some Core Values , which don’t allow for going against Constitution of the nation , or Indulgence in extremist jingoism of any hue . One may ask ; is it appropriate for an advocate’s association to be a part of a conglomerate which manifestly expresses no faith in the country’s Constitution and openly preaches secession ? It would indeed be sad day when advocates consider themselves above law .

In the given context it would be appropriate to reflect what K V Krishnaswamy Iyer has written in his classic Professional Conduct And Advocacy:

“ A legal profession is the most brilliant and attractive profession , with responsibilities both inside and outside it , which no person carrying on any other profession has to shoulder . An advocate has to deal with the great possible variety of human relations and has a mettle constantly tried from every direction . For same reason an advocate earns great social distinction , which ought not to be misused at any cost .”

It is not given to us to advise which issues advocate’s association in Srinagar should take up . Highly eminent and qualified professionals constitute that body . There is no denying that people in the Valley , in particular, have suffered a lot and need to be rescued from the socio-political turbulence that has engulfed that part of the state .In ensuring regard for the human rights and proper treatment of the under trials , the work done by the lawyer organizations in Kashmir is , indeed , laudable . But one feels that to keep on harping on ‘plebiscite and UN resolutions which even its parent – the UNO has long forgotten , would be articulating narrative of the past and reflective of an outdated mindset . That won’t help anyone .

Advocates have a social responsibility towards the people . Their word carries a meaning , as it is believed to emanate from a Constitutional echo system . It has to be conciliatory . Advocates in Kashmir have an opportunity to play a positive role . PM Narrandra Modi’s Independence day outreach to the Kashmiris , where he emphasized the need to ‘embrace ‘people to solve the issues rather than using ‘ gali ‘ and ‘ goli ‘ , could be the opening . Here , wise words of Former CJI , J S Khehar provide a way out - “ take two steps back .” HM Rajnath Singh’s five “ Cs “ may come handy . State agencies really need to retract a few steps and allow space for a “ hug “ .

We trust that eminences in Srinagar Bar will feel anguish of the Supreme Court and appreciate its sincere effort to ameliorate the plight of Valley dwellers . They may extend a cooperative hand .

(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )

(Disclaimer: The views, observations and opinions expressed in above write up of Scoop News are strictly author's own. Scoop News does not take any onus or liability for the veracity, accuracy, validity, completeness, suitability of any of information in the above given write up. The information, facts or figures appearing in the write up in no way manifest the position, standpoint or stance of Scoop News and the Scoop News does not assume any encumbrance or answerability of the same. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent Courts and Forums in Jammu City Only)

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