“Supreme Court examines suspension of lecturer Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, who contested Article 370 nullification.”

The Supreme Court recently directed the Attorney General R Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to address the matter of the suspension of Zahoor Bhat, a lecturer in the Jammu and Kashmir education department. Bhat had participated as a petitioner in a case challenging the 2019 abrogation of Article 370 that granted Jammu and Kashmir a semi-autonomous status. Appearing before the Constitution bench on August 23, Bhat criticized the way the nullification was executed.

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Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, leading a five-judge bench, acknowledged Bhat’s suspension after his appearance in court on August 24. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhavan pointed out that Bhat had been suspended from his job by the Jammu and Kashmir administration immediately after arguing before the Supreme Court.

The bench expressed concern that a person who argued before the court was suspended and instructed Venkataramani to communicate with the Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor to investigate the matter. R Venkataramani said he would look into it. Tushar Mehta mentioned that after learning of Bhat’s suspension from a newspaper, he checked with the administration and found various reasons for the lecturer’s suspension, including his frequent filing of petitions in different courts.

Sibal questioned the timing of the suspension, arguing that if there were other reasons for the suspension, why did it happen right after Bhat’s appearance before the court. He pointed out that the suspension order explicitly mentioned his appearance in court as one of the reasons. The bench emphasized that while other reasons might exist, it was essential to address the issue when someone is suspended so closely after arguing before the court.

Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a Senior Lecturer in Political Science, was suspended from his posting in Srinagar and attached to the office of the Director of School Education in Jammu. An inquiry officer was appointed to conduct an investigation into his conduct as per the official order.

The suspension was attributed to alleged violations of government employee conduct rules and leave rules. The order stated that during the suspension period, Bhat would remain attached to the office of the Director of School Education in Jammu, and an in-depth inquiry into his conduct would be conducted by Ms. Subah Mehta, Joint Director of School Education, Jammu.

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