“This proposal is to keep young lawyers out of the game. The lobby of senior lawyers have deliberately evoked this issue, so that they can keep the monopoly over the association”
Undermining the sanctity of the public property, head of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association presidium-Ved Raj Wazir termed the proposed amendments in the Constitution as their “Ghar Ka Masla”.
Infuriated over the queries of The Typewriter regarding a proposal presented before the General House to reportedly set an experience bar for the candidates to contest polls of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (JKHCBA) Jammu, Wazir said “Dekho Bhai Yeh Hamare Ghar Ka Masla Hai, Isme Apko Mudakhalat Karne Ki Zaroorat Nahi Hai” (This is an internal matter of the Association and you should not interfere).
The ‘unilateral’ proposal is likely to affect the legal fraternity of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, as the new proposal envisages a minimum experience of 30 years for the post of president, while 25-year and 22-year of experience for Vice President and General Secretary, respectively.
When contacted Surinder Singh, Advocate & former president (Member of the Presidium), who happens to be Returning Officer, said that he has come to know about the amendment in the constitution.
“The select committee has decided to propose amendments in the constitution and the same shall be decided in a day or two,” Singh said.
However, Ved Raj Wazir said “Bar association is not a property of anyone, it is an association of the lawyers. No one has the right to object, if we amend the constitution,”, adding “He had sought objections from all the stakeholders with regard to the proposal and as of now no objections has been received from any lawyer or group, including young lawyers”.
He said that the date of filing objections has been extended and only after rectifying the objections, they will forward this proposal to the General House for assent.
“There are 20 members in the select executive committee and whatever decision they will take shall be binding upon all, including the decision of forwarding this proposal to the General House,” said Mr Ved Raj Wazir, adding that the proposal of fixing criteria has been based on the demand of the executive committee.
When asked about the need of bringing this change, he said that the basic idea behind pushing this proposal is to install a competent and seasoned person as the president of the Bar.
“A seasoned person should be the president, who can represent the association at various forums,” he said and added that they do not have any enmity with the young lawyers.
Talking to the Typewriter, a senior lawyer wishing anonymity said “It is very unfortunate that head of the presidium considers High Court Bar Association as his internal matter, despite the fact that their area of operation is in public domain,” adding, “It has been made a precedence to rake up any controversial issue before elections of the Bar Association and this time, the proposed change in the constitution is going to affect lawyers fraternity in a big way”.
He alleged that the new amendment is deliberately proposed to keep the pot boiling and is a clear indicator of schism between lawyers fraternity.
“This proposal is to keep young lawyers out of the game. The lobbyism in the court is becoming apparent, wherein senior lawyers have deliberately evoked this issue to keep the monopoly over the association,” said lawyer, adding that this is not the first time that JKHCBA Jammu has attracted controversy.
He further said that irony of the matter is that after 10 years of practice, a lawyer is elevated as a High Court Judge, but this proposal wants Bar president with 30 years of experience, thus considering him more competent.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed said that he is not in favour of this move. “I feel this is not a right criteria and amounts to contain a river. If our state can have a 38-year old chief minister and when the world is talking about young leadership, how can they prescribe this criteria,” said Sheikh Shakeel, adding that this criteria must go.
In 2017, the association tried to curtail voting rights of the young lawyers, but due to criticism and opposition by young lawyers, the proposal was withdrawn. In 2018, the JKHCBA faced national level ‘embarrassment’, when its members sided with the accused of much talked rape and murder case of an eight-year-old nomadic girl. In 2019, Association had issued notice to former President and senior advocate, A V Gupta, and former Senior Additional Advocate General, Advocate Subash Chander Gupta Gupta for making a statement on Article 35-A.
Earlier, in a meeting it was unanimously decided that from 1st of April, election notification shall be issued and the last date of filing application form shall be 10-04-2021. Date of withdrawal of the nomination shall be 15-04-2021 and date of election if needed 24-04-2021.
The holding of election should be subject to at least 50% strength or 1500 bar members have deposited their subscription fee by or before the date of nomination withdrawal, failing which the Election process would be deferred and decision taken accordingly.
The voters list will be prepared as per the decision taken by the Special General House and will be restricted to the eligible voters as per the decision of the Special General House.