Srinagar, April 18 (GNS): The J&K High Court has sought a response from the government regarding interim release of the president of Bar Association advocate Mian Qayoom in keeping with the Supreme Court directions to decongest jails amid coronavirus pandemic.
Mian Qayoom was detained on 5 August last year — the day centre announced the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K.
The 76-year-old lawyer shifted to a jail in Agra where his health deteriorated. He was brought to New Delhi’s Tihar Jail in February.
“Meanwhile let the Government submit the response to the submissions made by (senior lawyer Z A) Shah seeking decision on the interim release of the detenue (Mian Qayoom) in tune with the directions passed by the Supreme Court in the suo moto proceedings,” ordered a division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Vinod Chatterji Koul after hearing senior advocate Z A Shah via video conference and senior Additional Advocate General B A Dar and T. M. Shamsi, Assistant Solicitor General of India, on voice call.
“Registry to send copy of this order to all the appearing counsel for the parties as well as to the Principal Secretary, Home Department, Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir through e-mail,” the court according to GNS said. The court however adjourned the proceeding as regards appeal filed by the Qayoom against dismissal of a petition to next month.
Earlier as soon matter was taken up for consideration, Sr. AAG B. A. Dar submitted that due to the lockdown, he is confined to his residence and does not have either the hard or the soft copies of the case file or of the relevant detention records available with him. He submitted that due to network connection issue, he also does not have the Video Conferencing facility available to him at his residence and, therefore, he expresses his inability to make his submissions and argue the case.
He submitted that the hearing of the matter may be postponed till, at least, the present period of lockdown comes to an end, enabling him to properly assist the Court. ASGI Shamsi also expressed the inability for making his submissions due to network connection issue and, accordingly, sought postponement of the hearing till the prevailing lockdown period comes to an end.
“Having considered the submission of Dar, we are of the view that there is a genuine difficulty incapacitating him to make his submissions. In that view, it is equally impracticable for the Court to commence the hearing of the case and/or to effectively conclude the hearing,” the court according to Global News Service said, adding, “We are of the view that it would be appropriate to adjourn the hearing of the matter today, with direction to list it before the available Division Bench on 4th of May, 2020.”
At this stage, Z. A. Shah submitted that on account of the Qayoom’s multiple ailments associated with diabetes etc., he is at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 in the over-crowded jail environment, and if it so happens, it would be perilous for his life.
He submitted that Qayoom’s family had approached the High-Powered Committee in terms of the directions passed by the Supreme Court in suo moto proceedings and, as per the information of the family, the Committee has already submitted the case to the Government for decision.
He also submitted by that a Division Bench of the Court, while dealing with the PIL concerning prevention of spread of COVID-19 in jails, has also directed the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to ensure de-congestion of the jails by releasing the prisoners on interim basis. He also contends that Qayoom has been detained for a period of one year, out of which, almost nine months have expired and, in case the hearing of the matter is not expedited, the proceedings will become infructuous.
B. A. Dar submitted that it was not possible for him to respond to the submissions made by the senior counsel without there being a proper motion made in that regard.
He submitted that in the event the matter is pending with the Government after report of the High-Powered Committee, the Government will take a decision thereon in accordance with the law.
“Having heard the above submissions on part of the counsel for the parties, we are of the view that there ought to be a proper motion filed in support of the submissions made by the senior counsel for the appellant, however, in view of the directions passed by the Apex Court in the above mentioned proceedings, there shall be no difficulty for the Government in taking a decision on the report of the High-Powered Committee,” the court said, and adjourned the matter to be listed on May 4. (GNS)