The Impunity Continues: Kunan Poshpora Public Prosecutor
Appointed As Central Government Standing Counsel
On April 5, 2014, the revision petition filed by the Indian army to shut down investigations in the 1991 Kunan Poshpora mass rape and torture case was listed for arguments before Sessions Judge, Kupwara. Advocate Parvez Imroz, appearing for the survivors, raised an objection that the Public Prosecutor, Ghulam Mohammad Shah had also been appointed as a Central Government Standing Counsel [CGSC] during the pendency of the revision petition. Not surprisingly, Indian army counsel Karnail Singh raised no objections to this dual appointment, while the Public Prosecutor first protested and then agreed that he had no right to argue the matter. It is a matter of shame that officials appointed to pursue the case on behalf of the survivors collaborate with accused, that is, the Indian army in ensuring that justice is delayed and denied.
This is clearly an example of professional misconduct, lack of integrity and is in violation of the terms of engagement of CGSC which states that a standing counsel cannot appear in any case against Union of India. The Sessions Judge took serious note of this obvious conflict of interest and ordered that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir through Commissioner/Secretary, Law Department appoint a Special Public Prosecutor within 10 days (Copy to Deputy Commissioner, Kupwara). Unfortunately for the survivors, the Law Minister, Mr. Saifullah Mir is himself under a cloud, for making unauthorized payments of Rupees 1 Lakh each to the victims, on the pretense that it was an official compensation payment.
Meanwhile, SP Abdul Jabbar continues to carry out no investigations in the case, and merely seeks extensions, and the Chief Prosecuting Officer defends him in the ongoing contempt case. To add to the collusion between the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian State, the new Special Public Prosecutor will now be appointed by the law department which is headed by Law Minister, Mir Saifullah who sought to buy out the Kunan Poshpora survivors by paying them Rs. 39 Lacs in cash in May 2012 under the false pretext that it was official payment following the SHRC recommendations in October 2011. On 5 March 2014, in response to a RTI, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir Home Department stated that no compensation/relief had in fact been paid.
There have now been 10 consecutive dates where the revision petition has been adjourned without hearing arguments on behalf of Kunan Poshpora survivors. The proceedings in the court today showed the complete collusion of the Government with the Union of India and the Indian Army at every level in providing impunity to perpetrators in this case. It requires to be investigated whether Public Prosecutor Ghulam Mohammad Shah was deliberately appointed at this particular juncture by the Union of India to subvert the processes of justice in this case.
The contempt case against SP Abdul Jabbar and the Indian Army revision petition are now listed for 19 April 2014.
Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora
Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society
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