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Missing in Action: A report on the Judiciary, Justice and Army Impunity in Kashmir

19 Nov 2007

In a recent judgment the Supreme Court of India, in the case of Masooda Parveen versus Union of India, rejected a writ petition under Articles 32 (Right to Constitutional Remedies) and 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) filed by the wife of one Ghulam Mohiud-in Regoo who died in Army custody, on the ground that the deceased was a militant.

In the teeth of an admission that the death took place in Army custody, numerous contradictions and inconsistencies in the state version of events that led up to the death, compounded by the “loss” of the original file containing the inquest report and documents, the Supreme Court chose to believe the assertion of the state that the deceased was a militant and his death was accidental. This judgment is not only aquintessential example of the unwillingness of the legal system to deal with excesses committed by the armed forces in disturbed areas, italso represents a benchmark in the struggle for justice by the people of Jammu & Kashmir before the Indian legal system. The present report attempts to analyse this case and the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India and its implications for the struggle for justice and self-determination of the people of J&K.

The Masooda Parveen case is interesting, therefore, for more than one reason. The petitioner-widow chose to place her faith in the Indian Supreme Court and expressed her lack of confidence in the J&K High Court by alleging that the J&K Bar Association was “politicizing it”. Whether this was a legal strategy to convey the impression that she was non-political or to underline the fact that justice would not be done to her case if it was taken up inJ&K, are a moot point. But it is equally likely that she moved the petition for compensation for the custodial death of Ghulam Mohi-ud-dinRegoo before the highest court in India believing that India’s Supreme Court is not as helpless as the Courts have been made in J&K.

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