Kunananposhpora Mass Rape: Justice Can't Be Defeated By Tactics, HC Tells Army

23 February 2015
Kashmir Reader
Marouf Ahmad Parray

Srinagar: The high court questioned on Monday Union of India and the army's approach leading to the stay of investigation into the infamous 1991 mass rape of women in twin villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Kupwara district. The court also directed the state government to pay by March 9 compensation to the victims if there were no orders contrary to it by the apex court. 'Why did you go to the single bench when you knew that division bench is seized of the matter?' a bench of justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey asked assistant solicitor general of India as soon as it was informed about the stay orders passed by the court's single bench on a petition filed by the army last month. 'Have you stated in your petition before the single judge that the division bench is monitoring the investigation?' the bench said while observing the 'first virtue of humanity is justice.' 'Justice cannot be defeated by adopting such tactics. Try to do justice. There is a court above us all,' the bench said while hearing a Public Interest litigation seeking justice to victims of the rape of over 30 women allegedly by personnel of army's 4 Rajputana Rifles during the night intervening February 22-23, 1991. Pending objections by the state government, the single bench on January 15 granted the stay on the army petition, which requested the court to annul two orders-one passed on June 18, 2013 by judicial magistrate Kupwara, seeking re-investigation into the case, and another passed on August 8 by sessions judge Kupwara who had upheld it. Monday's hearing marked the 24th anniversary of the gruesome rape. For the past two years, the day is observed as Kashmiri Women's Resistance Day, where the victims retake vow to fight for justice. The division bench meanwhile granted liberty to the petitioners to approach the chief justice for the consent to list the army's petition filed (under 561-A) along with the PIL. The court passed the directions while deposing of an application filed by the petitioners, seeking directions to the club the petition filed by the Union of India and the army before the single bench. 'This application cannot be allowed as it is prerogative of the chief justice to direct the listing of the case before any bench including that of division bench. The applicant would be at liberty to approach the chief justice in this behalf,' the court said. As per High court rules, the petitioners have to make an application to the Chief Justice for the consent about listing of the matter before the division bench. In another direction, the division bench directed the state government to pay compensation to the victims in tune with the recommendations by the State Human Rights Commission in 2011 before March 9 in case there were no orders contrary to it regarding Special Leave Petition filed by the state before Supreme Court. The court listed the case for further consideration on March 9. The directions followed submissions by additional advocate general RA Khan, seeking two weeks' time to inform the court about the progress of the case before the Supreme Court. 'The court had directed for payment of compensation to the victims of the alleged crime. Khan way back on November 11, 2014 informed the court that State of Jammu and Kashmir has taken a decision to challenge these orders before the Supreme Court,' the bench said The petition was listed many a times and the AAG was given time to inform the Court about the orders of the Supreme Court.