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Jammu & Kashmir lecturer suspended after article 370 argument in Supreme Court reinstated

Zahoor Ahmad Bhat

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has revoked the suspension of a college teacher who recently argued against the scrapping of Article 370 in the Supreme Court.

Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a senior lecturer of political science, was suspended during the Supreme Court's hearing of petitions challenging the central government's 2019 move to abrogate Article 370.

The Supreme Court had inquired whether Bhat's suspension was connected to his court appearance and hinted that such an action might be perceived as "retribution." The government's top law officer also acknowledged that the timing of the suspension was inappropriate.

On Sunday, the Jammu and Kashmir government lifted the suspension order and directed Bhat to "report back for his original place of posting." This marks the first instance in the past four years that a government order has been revoked in Jammu and Kashmir, reported NDTV.

Last week, the Supreme Court instructed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to engage with the Lt. Governor regarding the lecturer's suspension, which occurred shortly after his appearance before the court's five-judge Constitution bench,

During his court appearance, Bhat, who also holds a law degree, argued against the 2019 decision that revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and divided it into two Union territories.

Following this, the Jammu and Kashmir Education Department suspended him, citing violations of civil service regulations, government employee conduct rules, and leave rules.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal raised the issue in the Supreme Court, prompting Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud to instruct Attorney General R Venkataramani to investigate and discuss the matter with the Lt. Governor.

Sibal informed the court that Bhat had spoken for only five minutes in court before his suspension on August 25. "He took leave for two days, went back, and was suspended," Sibal stated.

The Chief Justice remarked, "Mr. AG, just see what has happened. Someone who appears in this court is suspended now. Have a look into it. Talk to the LG." He questioned the proximity between Bhat's arguments and his suspension, which Justice SK Kaul also highlighted. Solicitor General Mehta acknowledged that the timing was not appropriate, and Justice BR Gavai suggested that the government's action might be seen as retribution.

Mehta pointed out that there were other issues that led to Bhat's suspension and that he appeared in various courts.

In response, Sibal questioned why Bhat was not suspended earlier if there were other issues. He explained that Bhat teaches politics in Jammu and Kashmir and has faced challenges since the 2019 move, with his students raising questions about democracy.

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TAGS:article 370Zahoor Ahmad Bhat
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