Mohammed Altaf Khan (44), who was accused of involvement in militancy but was later acquitted, has approached the Supreme Court to direct the state government to appoint him an additional sessions judge.
As reported by Hindustan Times, Altaf topped the selection list of nine candidates who cleared the exams for Jammu and Kashmir’s subordinate judiciary in August 2012.
He was selected out of a total of 215 advocates who appeared for the exam. However, all appointments, including Khan’s, was stayed after some candidates moved the top court challenging the merit list. In September 2013, the Supreme Court allowed the appointments but said they would be subject to the outcome of the petition. Despite the clearance from SC, Altaf’s appointment was put on hold citing his involvement in militancy. Altaf, who was allegedly active as a militancy-related activist from 1991 to 1998, was arrested in 1998 under the Public Safety Act. He remained in jail for a few months, but was later acquitted. His lawyer Gagandeep Sharma said:
“He was given a clean chit after the police witnesses told the court the case against Khan was false.”
After his release from jail, Altaf pursued a post-graduate course at the National Law University in Bangalore.
He was also invited by the department of personnel and training to train young IAS and Kashmir administrative officers at Panchagani and in J&K.
Despite all his credits, he is yet to be appointed. He asks:
“If the former chief secretary can be installed in the highest bureaucratic position in the state after being acquitted by the court, why is a different yardstick being used for me.”
According to his application before SC, his case was sent to the chief secretary who constituted a screening committee in June 2013, which is yet to give its conclusions. His representations to the state government and to the chief minister’s redress cell proved futile.
A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu asked the state government to come back with a response to Khan’s application within four weeks.
Altaf claims that he is the first Kashmiri Muslim who started confidence-building measures with Kashmiri pandits in the year 2000.