J&K dismisses its counsel in Supreme Court

The Jammu and Kashmir government has fired its standing counsel in the Supreme Court after he reportedly refused to file a review petition to dispute the court’s views that the state “has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India,” a media report said today. “Supreme Court lawyer Sunil Fernandes, who has been the chief standing counsel for the state since September 2015 during his second stint, was on Monday evening instructed to resign “immediately”. Fernandes, according to the sources, was not given any specific reason why he was being sacked. In his first stint, the lawyer served as J&K standing counsel from May 2010 to September 2013, reported The Indian Express. “I was asked to resign. Hence, I put in my papers. Beyond that, it is not appropriate for me to say anything. Kindly direct your queries to the state government for the reasons behind this decision,” Fernandes told the paper. State government’s Law Secretary Abdul Majid Bhat, when contacted over the phone, initially said that Fernandes resigned on his own. But when told that the lawyer had said that he had been asked to quit, Bhat declined to comment. J&K Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan, who had a meeting on Sunday in the national capital with all the lawyers of the state in Delhi courts, including Fernandes, remained unavailable despite several calls and messages. The report, quoting the sources, said that authorities in the J&K law department were mounting pressure on Fernandes to file a review petition against the SC judgment of December 16, in which the top court had snubbed the J&K High Court for asserting the state’s “sovereignty” and “sovereign powers”. “Fernandes, it is understood, was asked to file the petition for reconsideration of the specific observations on the state’s “sovereignty” but the lawyer reportedly pointed out that no valid legal grounds for filing a review petition was made out. Sources added Fernandes said he would file a review against the judgment only if there are special instructions in writing to do so,” said the report.

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