Srinagar, November 12: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association has cancelled its elections and formed an ad hoc body to run its affairs after the government barred it from going ahead with the polls.
The Srinagar district administration on Monday ordered that no elections would be allowed till the Bar clarified its stand on whether it considers Kashmir a dispute or an integral part of India and also provided details of its registration, the Hindustan Times reported.
After a meeting on Wednesday, the Bar formed a 21-member ad hoc committee with senior member Nazir Ahmad Ronga as its chairman and put the poll process on hold. The committee comprised the candidates, former elected members and the election body.
“It is hereby notified that post constitution of the ad hoc committee, the notification for conduct of elections stands recalled,” the Bar said in a statement signed by its election commission secretary Mudasir Gulzar Vakil.
The body, which started its election process in September after the release of its incumbent president Mian Abdul Qayoom, who was detained following the revocation of J&K’s special status, deferred the voting scheduled on Tuesday after Srinagar district magistrate Shahid Choudhary asked it to first clarify its position for advocating the “peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute”.
“You are required to explain your position on the subject since it’s not in consonance with the Constitution of India, whereby J&K is an integral part of the country and not a dispute, and also in conflict with the Advocates’ Act,1961, which governs the subject,” Choudhary said, seeking an explanation from the association on November 9.
The bar body says that its stand is two decades old and in conformity with the Constitution.
Association chief election officer Manzoor Ahmed Dar said the district magistrate has no jurisdiction or authority to prevent elections and the Bar body will file appropriate responses to the communication. “The Bar constitution provides for seeking a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, which was incorporated more than two decades ago,” he said.
“In our view, it is in conformity with the Constitution of India and is also in conformity with the stand taken by the Bar association before the Supreme Court in proceedings related to abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A,” he said.
The Bar has tasked a senior advocate and a constitutional expert to file an appropriate response to the district magistrate. “A committee headed by senior advocate Zafar Ahmad Shah will look into the issues raised by the district administration on November 9,” the Bar statement said.