Bengali Judge Breaks Barrier - ‘Punishment Posting’ Draws Words Of Support In Kashmir6 March 2010
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Srinagar: A Bengali holding a constitutional post has won rare support and praise from a pro-separatist body in Kashmir. The Valley’s high court bar association has for the first time backed an “Indian” judge, outgoing state Chief Justice Barin Ghosh, criticising his “punishment posting” to Sikkim High Court. The bar, which is at the forefront of the azaadi struggle, said Justice Ghosh had been “penalised” because he was “fair” to Kashmiris. “He passed the kind of orders which no judge (in Kashmir) before him did. I have no doubt that he has been penalised for being very fair and honest,” bar association president Mian Abdul Qayoom claimed. During last year’s turmoil over the alleged Shopian rapes and murders, Justice Ghosh had directed all state courts not to grant bail, without consulting the high court, to the five police officers arrested for allegedly destroying evidence. The people of Shopian had ended their 62-day strike after the chief justice made an appeal and promised them justice. “There were other orders too where his role was extraordinary. On one occasion he asked the army to vacate 4,000 kanals of land,” the bar association president said. He said he had gone to Justice Ghosh’s chamber on December 31 and found the judge had received a letter seeking his consent for a transfer to Sikkim where, Qayoom said, “you have only three judges”. “(Justice Ghosh said) he had been expecting a transfer to Orissa and didn’t know why he was being transferred to Sikkim,” he added. Qayoom said Justice Ghosh’s 14-month tenure had been momentous. “For the first time the bar discussed the Kashmir dispute, and the UN resolution on it, in the high court after a petition was filed in Jammu (seeking delimitation of Assembly seats). “He heard the case for days together. Since the petition was filed in Jammu and could have been adjudicated there, he made it a point to know the viewpoint of the Kashmir bar in Srinagar.” Qayoom said there had been one occasion when Justice Ghosh could have done more. “During the Shopian episode, we asked that the investigation not be transferred to the CBI. While the case was being heard, the state government asked the CBI to investigate. He (Justice Ghosh) could have hauled up the government for contempt but didn’t. But we cannot judge him by this single incident.” He added: “Before him (Justice Ghosh), Chief Justice Mufti Bahauddin was penalised for his upright orders in 1993. He was shifted out of the state and resigned. But Justice Ghosh passed the kind of orders which even he (Justice Bahauddin) couldn’t have passed.” The bar, in a rare gesture, threw a farewell for Justice Ghosh on Thursday and its members openly criticised his transfer. Justice Ghosh didn’t react to these remarks but said the lower-court judges and lawyers in Kashmir were “much better than (those in) other places” where he had worked. He said he would cherish the love and affection he had received in Kashmir. The outgoing chief justice is scheduled to leave for Sikkim on Monday and is expected to take oath there on Tuesday. Justice Ghosh, 57, was enrolled as an advocate on December 19, 1978, and practised at Calcutta High Court. He was appointed a permanent judge of Calcutta High Court on July 14, 1995, and transferred to Patna High Court in 2005. He took over as Jammu and Kashmir chief justice in January last year.