Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Division Bench of Gita Mittal, CJ and Rajesh Bindal, J. noted an unusual and very serious situation in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and all District Courts in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for which the bench has directed for the deployment of Central Armed Police Force urgently along with issuance of notice to the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Government of India with respect to the gravity of the security situation.

High Court while stating that in order to inculcate confidence and ensure no disruption in justice dispensation system said that they are completely dependent upon the local police, however, certain events witnessed by several High Courts and District Courts in the past have manifested the inability of local police to ensure discipline and security.

“On 10-12-2019, Registrar General submitted a report of the Principal District Judge, Jammu and some of the judges in the District Courts, which shows that call for abstention from the court has been used by certain unruly elements to not only abstain from work but to indulge in complete illegal activities. Repeatedly physically locking the main gate of the District Court Building Complex, furniture being moved to block the gates of High Court and District Court, all of these acts are intolerable.”

“To our utter chagrin and dismay, the local police are either reluctant to engage with the lawyers or are not able to control the situation.”

Court also noted one of the incidents that took placed on 07-09-2019, wherein posters threating suicide attacks on the judiciary were pasted in the Srinagar Wing of the High Court.

Further, the Court stated that,

The District Courts in Jammu and Kashmir are conducting some of the most sensitive criminal trials in the country and dangerous criminals are being regularly produced for the purpose of their trials. Adding to this, the Bench stated that sensitive cases are being heard by both wings of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir also, despite the sensitive nature of work the security remains extremely porous.

Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India had issued guidelines as back as on 31-05-2007 and 04-6-2007 for the security of High Courts and District and Subordinate Courts in the country

Court stated that no heed was paid in J&K to the above guidelines and these do not appear to have been implemented.

The act of locking of the main door of the District Courts can have dangerous consequences that are beyond the violation of Article 21 rights of the prisoners and accused. The same can result in dangerous situation of anarchy within the Court complex. The same can endanger not only the security of the judges and other persons inside the district complex but also imperil lives in the event of any untoward incidents.

In view of the above events, the Court stated that the police has exhibited its complete inability to physically control the situation and ensure access to the court.

Urgent steps need to be taken to ensure the security of all Courts in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh.

The matter has been further listed on 29-01-2020. [Court on its own motion, In re, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 941, decided on 11-12-2019]

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