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Article 370: AG directed to look into suspension of Jammu and Kashmir lecturer for arguing against abrogation in Supreme Court

Article 370: AG directed to look into suspension of Jammu and Kashmir lecturer for arguing against abrogation in Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday directed Attorney General R. Venkataramani to look into the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir Education Department to suspend a lecturer, who had argued in the Article 370 matter before the Constitution Bench last week.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud. 

While terming the development as ‘unfair,’ Sibal contended that Zahoor Ahmad Bhat had taken leave for two days to appear in the matter and when he went back, he was suspended. 

Noting that the suspension order passed on August 25 made a reference of Bhat’s appearance in the case, Sibal said he was sure the AG would make ‘use of his good offices’ to look into the matter.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that he followed up the story after reading about it in the newspapers. He further said that what was reported in the newspapers might not be the whole truth. 

The SG further added that Bhat appeared in various courts regarding other issues. 

Sibal responded by saying that Bhat should have been suspended earlier then and not now. He remarked that this was not the way a democracy should function.

The Apex Court then asked AG Venkataramani to see what had happened and said that somebody who has appeared before this court, has been suspended. 

The Bench directed him to talk to the Lieutenant General and see what had happened. It further questioned the action being taken against Bhat after he appeared in the matter. The AG agreed to look into the issue.

The SG contended that everyone had a right to appear before the court. It could not be done as a retribution. 

However, the Apex Court pointed out the close proximity between the order and the arguments, stating that if the suspension was due to some other reason, it was fine. But if the letter of suspension had reference to Bhat’s appearance in the Article 370 matter, then there was a ‘problem’..

SG Mehta agreed that the timing of suspension was not proper. 

Lecturer Zafoor Ahmad Bhat had appeared as a party-in-person on August 24, expressing his deep concerns about the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated. He apprised the Apex Court about the difficulty he faced while trying to teach students about principles of the Indian Constitution and democracy to students in the region.

Terming it a ‘challenging situation,’ Bhat said that educators like him were facing difficulty in teaching the principles of this beautiful Constitution and the ideals of democracy to the students in Jammu and Kashmir. 

He further said that the students often posed a difficult question, whether India was still a democracy after the events of August 2019? As per Bhat, answering this question had become extremely complex and challenging for him.

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