New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from J&K government on a plea by Sara Abdullah Pilot challenging invoking of Public Safety Act for the continued detention of her brother and former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Omar Abdullah was detained on August 4, 2019, shortly before the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and subsequent bifurcation of the J&K into Union Territories.
Issuing notice to the J&K government, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Indira Banerjee directed the further hearing of the matter on March 2 even as senior counsel Kapil Sibal urged the court that it was a habeas corpus plea and an early date may be given.
Not acceding to the request by Sibal, Justice Mishra said that “you are coming after so long after being detained.”
It is Sara Abdullah — the sister of Omar Abdullah — who has moved the habeas corpus petition and has challenged the invoking of PSA against former Chief Minister, Sibal told the court.
Sibal clarified that the petitioner Sara Abdullah has challenged the further detaining Omar Abdullah under the PSA and prior to the invoking of the Public Safety Act, the former Chief Minister was detained under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Section 107 of the CrPC provides for steps to be taken by magistrate for keeping peace.
In response to a poser from the court whether any matter relating to Omar Abdullah’s detention was pending before the J&K High Court, Sibal said that there was none relating Omar Abdullah.
The matter on Friday came before the bench of Justice Mishra and Justice Banerjee as Justice Mohan M. Shantanahoudar who was part of the bench comprising Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Sanjiv Khanna had earlier recused himself from participating in the matter on Wednesday.
Omar Abdullah, his father and former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and other senior Kashmiri leaders are under detention since August 4-5.
Sara Abdullah in her petition has contended that there could not be any material for further detaining a person who is already under detention for last six months.
She has also sought quashing of the February 5, 2020, order detaining Omar Abdullah under the PSA.
Describing detention as “illegal”, Sara Abdullah in her petition has said, “The grounds for the detention order are wholly lacking any material facts or particulars which are imperative for an order of detention.”
Recounting the public service rendered by Omar Abdullah both in the J&K as Chief Minister and as a Central minister, the petition says, “It is rare that those who have served the nation as members of Parliaments, Chief Ministers of state, ministers in the union and have also stood by the national aspirations of India are now perceived as a threat to the state.”
It further says that “It is therefore of the utmost importance and of the utmost urgency that this court protects not only the individual’s Right to Life and Liberty but also protects the essence of Article 21 which is the cornerstone of Part III of the Constitution, a violation of which is anathema to all that a democratic nation stands for.”
It said that at no point of time in his “prolific political career”, he has resorted to or indulged in conduct unbecoming of a “conscientious public figure”.
The grounds of detention against Omar claim that on the eve of reorganisation of the state, he had allegedly made attempts to provoke general masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A.
Omar, who has been junior foreign minister and commerce minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led Cabinet in 2000, was served with a three-page dossier in which he was alleged to have made statements in the past which were “subversive” in nature....