Judges ignoring Indian government’s abuses in Occupied Kashmir: The Economist

ISLAMABAD, Oct 4 (APP):The Indian courts have no urgency to hear the petitions, challenging the
government’s move of abrogating the special status of Occupied Kashmir Valley, where seven million people are facing a continuous lockdown for the last two months.

The overwhelmingly Muslim slice of the state, has been under virtual siege by some 500,000 itchy-fingered Indian troops. Wielding draconian anti-terror laws, the government has arrested hundreds, not for any crime but to prevent protests, the London-based weekly ‘The Economist’ said in its article published on Friday.

“To the Supreme Court, however, none of this seems particularly urgent,” the article said while mentioning the delays by the Indian judiciary in taking up the cases related to Jammu and Kashmir.
The article said the Indian Supreme Court that met in late August to consider a batch of petitions, challenging the constitutionality of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s moves, it gave the government a month to reply.

“When the judges took the matter up again on October 1st, the government’s lawyers received not even a tap on the wrist for failing to prepare a response. Instead, the judges graciously yielded more time,”
it mentioned.

With equal unconcern, another bench of the Supreme Court on the same day postponed – for the seventh time in one case – an even bigger batch of petitions regarding unfair imprisonment and suspension of
communications.

It has shunted petitions for habeas corpus – which in legal theory are urgent matters – back to the high court in Jammu & Kashmir, in full knowledge that it has been swamped by more than 250 such protests
against illegal detention, yet has only two judges to hear them all.

“The reason why the state’s top court is so cripplingly undermanned, with eight of its 17 judgeship vacant, is that the Supreme Court has for months neglected to ratify any new appointments for the state. (Lawyers in Occupied Kashmir are also on strike, to protest arbitrary arrests.),” the article stressed.
Legal experts concur that this record has notably darkened in recent years. Gautam Bhatia, a lawyer who writes on legal issues, describes one of the Supreme Court’s recently favoured tactics as a “doctrine of
constitutional evasion”.

Rather than rule against Mr Modi’s government, the top court has repeatedly waffled just long enough for matters to resolve themselves in its favour, it said.

In the case of Aadhaar, a national biometric identification scheme, the Supreme Court waited five years to pronounce that it should be scaled back, by which time more than one billion people had been
enrolled.

“It took two years to rule that Mr Modi’s government had overstepped its powers by interfering in the local politics of Delhi, by which time the opposition party that runs the city, had been bullied and harassed into near irrelevance,” it said.

The central government, according to a petition, used “a temporary situation, meant to hold the field until the return of the elected government, to accomplish a fundamental, permanent and irreversible alteration of the status of the state of Jammu & Kashmir without the concurrence, consultation or recommendation of the people of that state.”

“Such dodges work only with the connivance of the courts,” The Economist’s article concluded.

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