Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
Suspension of Valley lecturer rolled back
SRINAGAR: The Jammu & Kashmir administration has withdrawn a suspension order against a lecturer who was removed after he made a Supreme Court appearance in favour of Article 370, and directed him to “report to his original place of posting for further duties”.
The development came days after the top court raised questions over the action taken against Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a lecturer of political science at Government Higher Secondary School Jawahar Nagar in Srinagar, on August 25 and asked attorney general R Venkataramani and solicitor general Tushar Mehta to speak to the J&K lieutenant governor (LG) over the reasons behind the move.
In its order on Saturday, Alok Kumar, principal secretary to the government, said: “Having regard to the attending circumstances and after careful deliberation, the Governor Order No. 251-JK(Edu) of 2023 ... dated 25.08.2023 is withdrawn forthwith. By order of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.”
On Sunday, the administration asked Bhat to return to his duties. “... Sh.Zahoor Ahmed Bhat Sr. Lecturer, Pol. Science is ...directed to report to his original place of posting,” an order, signed by personnel officer Vikas Dhar Bagati, said.
Bhat declined to comment on the revocation of his suspension. Earlier, he said he had no issues with the government and did not know the reason behind his suspension. On August 23, the lecturer, who has a law degree, appeared as one of the petitioners in the case, raising a legal challenge to the validity of the 2019 nullification of the Constitution’s Article 370 that granted J&K a semi-autonomous status.
Two days later, he was suspended by the J&K school education department for violation of provisions of J&K Civil Service Regulations, J&K Government Employees Conduct Rules, and J&K Leave Rules. “Pending enquiry into his conduct, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, senior lecturer, political science, ... is hereby placed under suspension with immediate effect for violation of provisions of J&K CSR, Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees (conduct) Rules,1971,” the order said.
Subsequently, Bhat was attached to the office of director of school education, Jammu. The LG’s office also directed “an in-depth inquiry into the conduct of the delinquent officer”.
On August 28, a five-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud urged the administration to review the suspension, saying proximity between the action against Bhat and his appearance before the top court made the development “suspect”.
The observation came after senior advocate Kapil Sibal raised the issue before the bench, saying it is “extremely unfair” to act against a person merely for appearing before the Supreme Court and presenting his point of view.