Srinagar, July 1: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Friday ordered government to pay Rs five lakh as compensation to family of Amir Latief Magrey, one of the four persons killed in an “encounter” at Hyderpora area of Srinagar last year.
Disposing of an appeal filed by the government against its single bench’s verdict, a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani asked officials to allow Amir’s father—Mohammad Latief Magrey and his family members “(maximum 10 persons)” to perform Fatiha Khawani (religious rituals/prayers) of Amir at Wadder Payeen graveyard in Kupwara, on the date and time to be decided in consultation with Magrey. However the court said it shall be “subject to taking into account security measures which may be required to be put in place inasmuch as the COVID-19 guidelines.”
“Appellants (government) to pay compensation of Rs.5 00 Lakhs, awarded by the Writ Court, to respondent no.1 (Magrey) is maintained,” the court said, adding, “It is made clear that the payment of said compensation by appellants to respondent no.1 shall not form a precedence for future in view of the fact that the compensation stands awarded to (Magrey) in view of the peculiar facts and circumstances of the instant case.”.
However, the court declined family’s prayers to allow them to see Amir’s body.
“The prayer of counsel (Deepika Singh Rajawat) for respondent no.1 (Mohammad Latief Magrey) made during the course of arguments that (Magrey) and his family members be permitted to see the face of deceased by opening the grave of the deceased, cannot be accepted and permitted, firstly, in view of pleading of writ petitioner (Mohammad Latief Magrey) that the dead body would start decomposing immediately after burial, and secondly in view of the statement made by (Mohammad Latief Magrey) before the Apex Court while giving up the prayer of exhumation of the body of the deceased,” the court said.
On June 29 last, the court had reserved verdict after hearing Advocate General D C Raina and Advocate Rajawat.
In his submissions Advocate General D C had submitted that family can be allowed to perform Fatih Khawani at the graveyard. He had said last rites of deceased had been performed as per islamic religious practices “by giving a washing and cleaning of body, shrouding/systematic wrapping of the body with two white pieces of cloth, covering the whole body followed by Janaza prayers and consequent burial of the deceased in the grave, reciting verses from the Holy Book Quran.”
Pertinently the apex court bench had on June 27 taken note of the submission of senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Magrey, that now he does want to press for the first relief that the body be allowed to be exhumed for performing last religious rites at the family graveyard. Magrey had submitted before the Supreme Court that he wants to perform the last rites as per the religious practices at the Wadder Payeen graveyard in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district where his son was buried.
On June 3, the High Court’s division bench of justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Wasim Sadiq Nargal had stayed the operation of the Single’s May 27 verdict which had ordered the exhumation of Amir’s body from the Wadder Payeen graveyard. The single bench of the court had observed that the “State cannot deny constitutional right in the name of preventing law and order situation getting out of hand”.
The court had also asked the government to make appropriate arrangements for transportation of Amir’s body to native village of Thatharka Seripora in Tehsil Gool area of Ramban district with “promptitude and without wasting any further time.”
If the body was highly petrified, the court had said that in that situation the State shall pay to Amir’s father a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs for “deprivation of his right to have the dead body of his son and give him decent burial as per family traditions, religious obligations and faith which the deceased professed when he was alive.”
Bodies of two other persons, Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Dr. Mudasir Gul, who were killed in the Hyderpora “encounter”, were exhumed and returned to the families following an outcry days after the gunfight on November 15, 2021.