“Supreme Court Questions Suspension of Lecturer after Article 370 Hearing: Possible Retribution?”

Supreme Court Seeks Answers on Suspended Lecturer: "Retribution?"

The Supreme Court has raised eyebrows over the suspension of a college lecturer in Jammu & Kashmir, shortly after he presented arguments against the abrogation of Article 370 before the court. The court has urged the centre’s top law officer to converse with J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to discern the reason behind the lecturer’s suspension. The court’s probing hints at the possibility of “retribution,” indicating its apprehension if the suspension was linked to the lecturer’s court appearance.

Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a senior political science lecturer holding a law degree, recently appeared before a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, to discuss matters related to the scrapping of Article 370.

Subsequently, the J&K Education Department issued an order suspending Mr Bhat from his position. The suspension order, issued by the department’s Principal Secretary, cited violations of various regulations and rules. The order stated that during the suspension period, the lecturer would be attached to the Directorate of School Education in Jammu.

This swift suspension came to the attention of the court through senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who highlighted the connection between Mr Bhat’s appearance and his subsequent suspension. The court raised concerns about the proximity of these events and intimated its potential interpretation as a form of “retribution.”

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud directed Attorney General R Venkataramani to investigate the matter further. The Chief Justice remarked, “Mr AG, just see what has happened. Someone who appears in this court is suspended now… talk to the Lieutenant Governor.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta initially suggested that the suspension was related to other matters. However, after Justice SK Kaul pointed out the timing of the events, Mehta conceded that the suspension “was not definitely proper.”

Kapil Sibal underscored the suspension’s curious timing, noting that if the suspension had no connection to Mr Bhat’s court appearance, it should have occurred earlier.

Justice BR Gavai expressed concerns about potential government retribution, stating, “What happens to so much freedom then… if it has happened due to appearance here then it is indeed retribution.”

During his appearance before the court, Mr Bhat had argued that teaching Indian politics in Jammu and Kashmir became more complex after the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019. He shared that students now questioned whether the region still retained democratic attributes.

Mr Bhat’s arguments touched on the constitutional implications of J&K losing its special status and being divided into two union territories. He contended that this move contradicted the principles of the Indian constitution, undermining cooperative federalism and the Constitution’s supremacy.

As the situation unfolds, the Supreme Court’s scrutiny of the suspension underscores the significance of the issues raised by Mr Bhat’s court appearance and the potential ramifications of administrative actions following such engagements.

Sources By Agencies

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