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Authorities ban High Court Bar Association polls in J-K

The authorities in Srinagar have banned the elections for the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (HCBA) following the arrest of former president Mian Abdul Qayoom. The order, issued by the Srinagar district magistrate (DM), cited concerns about the HCBA’s legal status and potential breaches of peace.

The HCBA had announced its election on June 11. However, the DM received a communication from the Kashmir Advocates’ Association on June 15, questioning the legality of the HCBA and alleging it promotes secessionist ideologies. The association demanded a ban on the elections, claiming they could lead to unrest.

In response, the DM sought a report from the senior superintendent of police (SSP), Srinagar, and the Registrar of Societies, Kashmir, regarding the HCBA’s registration status. The Registrar confirmed that the HCBA is not registered, while the SSP’s report highlighted the association’s alleged secessionist activities and potential to disrupt public order.

The DM noted that the HCBA had not responded to a previous notice seeking clarification on its constitution, which includes advocating for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue—an objective conflicting with the Constitution of India and the Advocates Act, 1961.

Considering these reports, the DM concluded that allowing the HCBA election could lead to significant unrest. Consequently, the DM invoked Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting gatherings related to the HCBA election at the District Court Complex and other locations.

The SSP, Srinagar, has been instructed to enforce this order, and any violation will result in punitive action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. This decision follows Qayoom’s arrest for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to murder fellow advocate Babar Qadri in 2020.

The ban underscores the authorities’ concerns about the HCBA’s influence and the potential for election-related violence, aiming to maintain public order and safety in the region.

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