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All Kashmiri Hindus are not Kashmiri Pandits: High Court

All Kashmiri Hindus are not Kashmiri Pandits - High Court

The Court said this while dismissing a plea seeking appointments against the quota of jobs provided for Kashmiri non-migrant Pandits under the Prime Minister’s Package.

High Court of J&K and Ladakh Tuesday ruled that all Kashmiri Hindus are not Kashmir Pandits.

“It is difficult, to accept the contention of counsel for the petitioners that the petitioners, who are mostly Kshatriyas, Rajputs, Scheduled Caste non-Kashmiri Brahmins, etc., etc. should be treated as Kashmiri Pandits and admitted to the benefits of Prime Minister’s revised package for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants given effect to by the Rules of 2009 read with SRO 425 of 2017, a bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar said.

On behalf of the petitioners, advocate Altaf Mehraj argued that in the absence of any definition of “Kashmiri Pandits” given in the SRO, all Hindus, who are staying in Kashmir Valley and did not migrate like non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, should be treated as “Kashmiri Pandits”.

Observing that it is true that neither in SRO 425 nor in the Rules of 2009 as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017, the term “Kashmiri Pandit family” has been defined, the Court said: “What is, however, defined in Rule 2(ca) is the term “Kashmiri Pandit” which means a person belonging to “Kashmiri Pandit Family” who has not migrated from Kashmir Valley after 1st of November, 1989 and is presently residing in Kashmir Valley. In the absence of a specific definition of the term “Kashmiri Pandit family”, the only way to find out the true meaning of the term is to apply the common parlance principle”.

“There is no denying the fact that in common parlance, Kashmiri Pandit is a community of Kashmiri-speaking Brahmins living in the Valley for generations and are distinctly identified by their dress, customs, and traditions, etc. “Kashmiri Pandits”, is a separately identifiable community distinct from other Hindus residing in the Valley like Rajputs, Brahmins other than Kashmiri Pandits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and many others”

The Court said this while dismissing a plea seeking appointments against the quota of jobs provided for Kashmiri non-migrant Pandits under the Prime Minister’s Package.

In their petition, some non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus had also sought to specify the quota out of 1997 posts advertised by the government through a notification dated 01.12.2020, for Kashmiri migrants and non-migrant Pandits.

The petitioner’s case was that in 2009, the government of India issued Prime Minister’s Package for return and rehabilitation to Kashmiri migrants in Kashmir Valley and the same was implemented by the then State Government by promulgating SRO 412 dated 30.12.2009.

They submitted that on the basis of the survey conducted the SRO 412 of 2009 was amended by SRO 425 of 2017 and the people belonging to the Hindu community who had stayed back in the Valley and did not migrate in 1990, were also extended the benefits of special recruitment drive under PM’s package for Kashmiri migrants.

“On 1st December 2020 an advertisement was issued for filling up 1997 posts in accordance with SRO 412 of 2009 as amended vide SRO 425 of 2017,” they said.

The advertisement, they said, was also open for the persons who had not migrated and they were however required to produce bonafide certificates to be issued by the concerned Deputy Commissioners to certify that such candidates had not migrated and were, accordingly, not registered with the Commissioner (Relief).

“The Deputy Commissioners were also to certify that the candidates seeking the benefit of special recruitment drive belonged to the community described as “Kashmiri Pandits.“The Deputy Commissioners, without any justification, chose not to grant such certificates in respect of a group of non-migrant Kashmiri Hindus, who according to them did not belong to the community of “Kashmiri Pandits”.

After the petitioners were denied the certificates they sought the intervention of the court and were allowed to participate in the selections process vide court order dated 1st of March, 2021 for the posts advertised. They submitted that the selection process has been almost concluded and the selection list framed but their selection was withheld on the ground that they do not meet the requirement of production of the “Kashmiri Pandit” certificate issued by the competent authority.

The petitioners said that the benefit of SRO 425 of 2017 on the ground that said SRO is an outcome of the census carried by the

Government of India with regard to the living conditions of Hindus in the Valley who despite adversity had opted not to migrate from the valley during the turmoil in the year 1990 and, therefore, the benefit of Prime Minister’s Package cannot be restricted to only one community i.e. “Kashmiri Pandits”.

“All Hindus who are residing in the Valley and have not migrated, constitute one class, and their further classification on the basis of their identities is not permissible in law,” they said.