Constitutional expert ridicules controversy over J&K flag

Constitutional expert ridicules controversy over J&K flag

Constitutional expert ridicules controversy over J&K flag

A constitutional and legal expert on Saturday ridiculed the controversy triggered by the withdrawal of a circular, issued by the Jammu and Kashmir government, pertaining to the respect and honour to be accorded to the J&K flag.

Zafar Shah, a leading advocate of J&K who pleads constitutional/legal matters in the high court and the Supreme Court, told IANS: "The entire controversy surrounding the state flag is ill-conceived and triggered perhaps by lack of knowledge."

"All constitutional authorities and offices in Jammu and Kashmir including the chief minister, members of the council of ministers, chief justice and judges of the state high court take oath of office under the J&K constitution."

"These offices/authorities are constitution bound to give honour and respect to the state flag as is enshrined in the constitution of the state."

"No executive/administrative order issued or withdrawn by the state government can modify or affect the status of the state flag as it is guaranteed by the J&K constitution," he said.

"Thus, trying to say that an executive order to accord or withdraw the constitutionally enshrined status of the J&K flag is pure ignorance."

The state government on Friday withdrew an executive order issued by it a couple of days earlier regarding the honour and respect to be shown to the state flag.

Since Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country that has a constitution of its own, and which is applicable to the state concomitantly with the Indian constitution, J&K also has a state flag which is hoisted along with the national flag here.

On Thursday, the state general administration department issued a circular that constitutional authorities be asked to fly the state flag on their official cars, offices and buildings.

Later, the circular was withdrawn by the government which said that it had not been approved by the competent authority.

The withdrawal of the circular triggered a political controversy as media reports and adversaries of the BJP-PDP ruling coalition said the Mufti Sayeed-led government had buckled under pressure from the  BJP, whose allies in the RSS and the Shiv Sena have historically opposed both the separate constitution and the separate flag of J&K.

Former state chief minister Omar Abdullah also joined the critics in lambasting Sayeed for the withdrawal of the circular.

"Mufti Sayeed can't protect the sanctity of the most visible sign of J&K's special status so let us not even expect anything on AFSPA, 370 etc," Abdullah tweeted.