In an unusual order that raises questions of propriety, the Principal Sessions Judge of Srinagar expressed his inability to hear a bail application last Monday saying he had received a call from the secretary of a J&K High Court judge, and had been instructed not to grant bail in the matter.
In his December 7 order, Principal Sessions Judge Abdul Rashid Malik, referring to the bail application of one Sheikh Salman who had been booked under sections of the Ranbir Penal Code that included Section 307 (attempt to murder), said: “This application has come up today for hearing. At 9.51 AM, the under-signed received a call from Mr Tariq Ahmad Mota, Secretary to Hon’ble Mr Justice Javid Iqbal Wani.”
“The following were the contents of his mobile call: ‘I have been directed by Hon’ble Mr Justice Javid Iqbal Wani to convey you to make sure that no bail is granted to Sheikh Salman. If there is any Anticipatory bail pending, the direction is the same’,” the order stated.
Forwarding the bail application to the Judicial Registrar, J&K High Court, with a request to place it before the Chief Justice, Principal Sessions Judge Malik said: “Therefore, for the aforesaid reasons, the under-signed expresses the inability to hear the matter. This application is submitted to learned Registrar
Judicial, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir with the request that the same may be placed before the Hon’ble Chief Justices as the matter involves the liberty of the person. The learned counsel for the petitioner shall appear before the learned Registrar Judicial, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar today.”
Sources said the bail application matter was forwarded to the Chief Justice on the day Justice Gita Mittal was retiring as Chief Justice. It was referred back to the district court which subsequently granted bail to the applicant.
Principal Sessions Judge Malik did not respond to calls for comment. Judicial Registrar Masrat Shaheen told The Indian Express that she “can’t comment on it”.
Justice Wani, son-in-law of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom, was appointed judge of the High Court in June this year. Before his appointment as judge, he served as Senior Additional Advocate General – incidentally, he had opposed the release of his father-in-law who was held under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
The matter involving Sheikh Salman, which came up for hearing before the Principal Sessions Judge, was related to an incident of assault. Police sources said Salman had beaten a youth and then posted a detailed account on social media about how he had “taught him a lesson”. The youth who had been assaulted approached police which lodged an FIR under RPC sections that including Section 307 (attempt to murder).
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