Why Was J&K Teacher Suspended a Day After Arguing in Article 370 Case?

A political science teacher had argued for 6 minutes before the Supreme Court against the abrogation of Article 370.

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Why Was J&K Teacher Suspended a Day After Arguing in Article 370 Case?
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Last week, a political science teacher from Kashmir, argued for six minutes before the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court against the abrogation of Article 370.

In those six minutes, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a senior teacher at the Government Higher Secondary School in Srinagar, eloquently pointed out before the apex court about why it has become very difficult for him  “to teach since 2019 about this beautiful Constitution.”

“I teach Indian politics in J&K. It is...very difficult for me to teach since 2019 about this beautiful Constitution. When students ask if we are a democracy after 2019, it is difficult to answer,” he pointed out on Thursday, 24 August.

And then, a day later, on Friday 25 August, the School Education Department in Kashmir suspended him.


The Suspension Order

An order was issued by the Principal Secretary to the Jammu and Kashmir administration, School Education, placing Bhat under suspension, which described him as  a “delinquent officer.”

"Bhat, senior lecturer, political science, presently posted at Government Higher Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar, 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.

While the exact reason behind Bhat’s suspension remains unclear, the five-judge Constitution bench hearing the Article 370 case, remarked on Monday, 24 August, that if this was done because of his appearance before the court “that may be retribution.”

The Quint has reached out to officials in the School Education Department of Jammu and Kashmir. This story will be updated with their response once it comes in.


'That May Be Retribution': What The Supreme Court Said

"If there is something else, then it is a different matter. But why in such close succession to him appearing and then getting suspended," the bench headed by CJI Chandrachud asked, after Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal brought Bhat’s case to the court’s attention.

"If it is due to (his) appearance, that may be retribution. What happens to so much freedom?,” 

“This is unfair, I am sure the AG (Attorney General) will look at it,” Sibal said.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, argued that Bhat appears in various courts and that there were “other issues”. 

“Then he should have been suspended earlier, why now? This is not fair. This is not the way democracy should function,” Sibal pointed out.

The top court then proceeded to ask the Attorney General to verify the facts of the matter as to why action was initiated against Bhat - in close proximity of his appearance before the court. 

The suspension order requires Bhat to report to the Director School Education's office in Jammu while he is suspended.

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Topics:  Article 370 

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