If Vohra follows precedent, Khoda’s chances of becoming CVC bleak
SRINAGAR May 29: Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda today got a breather as State High Court dismissed the petition in the Bhaderwah triple murder case but his chances of becoming the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) of the State are still bleak if Governor, N N Vohra, follows his own precedent.
The dismissed petition was seeking Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for Khoda’s alleged role in a triple murder case in Bhaderwah. But the affected families have vowed to take the fight for justice all the way to Supreme Court. A statement by the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons said here that they will appeal before the apex court.
Justice Virender Singh dismissed the petition filed by two widows, Nazira Begum and Shaheena Begum, wives of victims Fazal Hussain Dar and Muhammad Hussain, at the Jammu, Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri told Excelsior here this afternoon.
Qadri said that he had closed the arguments on behalf of the State on Friday after the petitioners’ counsel had cited a Crime Branch report and called for a CBI investigation into the triple murder.
Qadri said that the case was heard and disposed off by Justice Hasnain Masoodi while Justice Virender Singh announced the judgment at Jammu today.
The petition, filed by the families of the victims through noted Advocate Perwaiz Imroz was seeking a CBI probe into the “involvement of the Director General of Police, Kuldeep Khoda, in the killings”.
Petitioners Nazeera Begum, wife of Fazal Hussain Dar, and Shaheena Begum, wife of Mohammad Hussain, had cited the Crime Branch report that had allegedly indicted Khoda and called for an investigation by the CBI.
Khoda was posted as DIG, Doda-Udhampur Range, at the time of the incident. He was the respondent in the case.
It may be mentioned here that four civilians, Fazal Hussain, his son Fareed Hussain, Muhammad Hussain Lone and Talib Hussain, were allegedly kidnapped from their homes in Bhaderwah by one Mohammad Ashraf who was working with police as an SPO in 1996.
While three persons were killed allegedly by Ashraf and his gunmen, Talib Hussain had managed to escape from their clutches and reported the matter to police.
A case was filed with the police after investigations directed by chief judicial magistrate’s court, Bhaderwah. The victims’ families, however, not satisfied with the investigation approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). It directed the police’s Crime Branch to investigate the case.
Coordinator of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Khurram Pervaiz while giving details about the case told Excelsior that Khoda was implicated in the triple murder case by a Crime Branch progress report.
Khuram said that the families of the deceased filed a petition before the Srinagar Bench of the High Court in September 2011. “A transfer petition was filed by Mohammad Ashraf, the person alleged to have been responsible for carrying out the killings, which was accepted on 16 April 2012”, he said.
Khuram said that the families of the victims had waited 16 years for justice and “today’s decision by Justice Masoodi is a further disappointment” to the families who have watched with increasing frustration the proceedings before the High Court.
Khuram alleged that following the filing of the petition, at every step, the families have witnessed a judicial process that they may well perceive as being against the interests of justice.
Khuram said that first; Justice Masoodi chose to invite the Advocate General to “assist” the bench instead of issuing notices, observing that this was a sensitive case.
“Second, rather than providing assistance, the Advocate General did not initially appear before the Bench and then subsequently despite agreeing to submit the complete Crime Branch record in the case, did not do so for 8 months”, said Khuram.
“Third, the Chief Justice of the High Court admitted a transfer petition filed by Mohammad Ashraf, despite him not yet being a party to the proceedings. Further, on 16 April 2012 the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court accepted the transfer petition, despite the Chief Justice having earlier allowed the petition to be heard in Srinagar, and despite the petitioners strongly objecting to the transfer of the case to Jammu”, said Khuram.
“Fourth, the matter, listed as part-heard, was taken up within 4 days thereby effectively precluding the petitioners counsel from appearing in the matter in Jammu”, said Khuram.
“Fifth, the matter was adjourned to May 25, 2012 but was not taken up. But, we are informed, that on 25 May 2012 the Advocate General filed written objections to the petition and submitted the records that the High Court had sought 8 months earlier. The petitioners, nor their counsel, were informed or provided the documents”, said Khuram.
“Sixth, and most remarkably, the petition was dismissed this morning, a judgment issued by Justice Masoodi but read out by Justice Virender Singh, without providing the petitioners or their counsel an opportunity to be heard”, said Khuram.
Khuram said that the families of the victims who sought to litigate the matter in Srinagar as they were unable to find any legal assistance in Jammu, were completely disregarded when the petition was transferred to Jammu.
Khuram said that the dismissal of the petition, particularly the speed at which it was executed and the lack of opportunity afforded to the petitioners to present arguments, emphasizes to the families that their struggle for justice may never end.
Khuram alleged that the dismissal of the petition was done on the basis of the objections filed by the Advocate General on behalf of the State Government. “The State Government shamelessly continues to perpetuate their policy of indifference towards the vital human rights issues of the people thereby shielding accused from accountability”, he alleged.
Khoda, a 1974-batch IPS officer, retires on May 31 after his four years and 10 months as Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police. His name was recommended by the state government for the post of state’s first Chief Vigilance Commissioner yesterday despite the opposition leader and president of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) walking out of the meeting in protest against his recommendation.
Mehbooba alleged that Government’s insistence on the name of Khoda as the CVC of the State seemed to be a reward for “his cover up of the JKCA scam, human rights violations of 2008 and 2010 and the triple murder case of 1998.”
“We had written to Chief Minister to offer our support to expand the ambit of selecting chairman beyond bureaucracy so that people of high integrity from Civil Society can be brought in as was desired by the Supreme Court”, said Mehbooba.
“How can you empanel a person who has triple murder case against him? 120 persons were killed in 2010 when Khoda was the DGP. Don’t we have any other person in the entire country who does not have so many allegations against him?” Mehbooba asked.
In the meantime, Khoda’s chances of becoming the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of the State are also fading by the day despite the National Conference-Congress coalition putting its full might behind his appointment to the coveted position.
If Governor N N Vohra follows his own precedent, he will have to return the panel of nomination forwarded by the State Government for the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioners.
Vohra, in a move that was widely lauded, had returned the nomination of Justices Y P Nargotra and Bashir Ahmad Kirmani as members of the State Accountability Commission in 2009 as PDP president and leader of opposition Mehbooba Mufti was not present in the meeting that had recommended their names.
Since the Leader of opposition walked out of the selection committee meeting yesterday, consensus has surely evaded the nominations as Mehbooba openly voiced her opposition to Khoda’s appointment.
Vohra who is seen as non-controversial governor of the State has always taken cases on the basis of merit. And will he give assent to Khoda’s appoint as first CVC of the State is to be seen.
If Vohra follows precedent, Khoda’s chances of becoming CVC bleak