The controversy over the beef ban in Jammu and Kashmir has intensified with the Mufti government shunting out Additional Advocate General Vishal Sharma, apparently for “failing to defend” its stand before the High Court which directed strict enforcement of a 1932 law against beef sale. He has been replaced by Wasim Nargal.
The government has also initiated an inquiry to fix responsibility of the mishandling of a PIL, which sought high court directions to strictly enforce the law banning sale of beef in the state. “We are looking into the matter to identify the lapses,” said Commissioner-Secretary Law Mohammad Ashraf Mir. Sources said the Law Ministry has taken strong note of Sharma’s “total failure” in defending the government’s position in the court.
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Mir, however, said Sharma’s transfer from home to the education department was a “routine matter”. The change was necessitated as there was no one to handle cases of education department , he said. He added that Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon had said that he was not informed about the PIL filed in the high court in 2014. Samoon did not respond to repeated phone calls. Sharma, on his part, said immediately after his first appearance in the case on July 22, he had informed the officials concerned.
On the other hand, court records revealed that since the PIL was filed, state divisional commissioners were asked to submit a report on steps taken to prevent slaughter of bovine animals and sale of beef in areas under their jurisdiction. While the Jammu divisional commissioner filed a report on February 13, his Kashmir counterpart Samoon did not respond despite repeated notices, as per the court records.
Sharma is the son of veteran VHP leader and senior advocate Leela Karn Sharma who spearheaded the 2008 Amarnath land row and later unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary polls from Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha constituency.