SC notice to J-K on Sara Pilot’s plea against brother Omar’s detention

Hearing on March 2

SC notice to J-K on Sara Pilot’s plea against brother Omar’s detention

Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 14

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sara Abdullah Pilot’s petition challenging the detention of her brother and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah under the stringent Public Safety Act.

A Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked it to respond to her petition in two weeks.

“It is a habeas corpus plea against second order of detention under PSA,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Pilot, submitted on behalf of the petitioner and demanded an early hearing.

However, it refused to grant an early hearing.

“If the sister could wait for such a long period then 15 days won’t make any difference,” the Bench said posting the matter for further hearing on March 2.

On Wednesday, Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar had recused himself from her petition without assigning any reason for his recusal when it had come up for hearing before a three-judge Bench headed by Justice N V Ramana.

Terming her brother’s detention under the Public Safety Act as “manifestly illegal”, Sara had on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the February 5 order detaining him under the stringent law.

Fresh orders for detention of Omar and another former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were issued hours before their six-month period of detention under an August 5, 2019 order was due to expire. It was alleged that on the eve of the reorganisation of the state he made attempts to provoke the masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A.

On the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, Omar was put under house arrest and it was later learnt that section 107 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 was invoked to justify such arrest, she said, demanding that her brother be produced before the top court.

Maintaining that there was no question of Omar being a “threat to the maintenance of public order”, Sara contended the detention of individuals, including political leaders, was a mala fide exercise of power to ensure that the opposition to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution was silenced.

“It is rare that those who have served the nation as members of Parliament, Chief Ministers of a state, ministers in the Union and have always stood by the national aspirations of India are now perceived as a threat to the state,” she submitted.

The grounds on which Omar Abdullah”s detention has been ordered are “false and illusory to the extent of being non-existent and are not grounds within the contemplation” of the PSA, she contended.

The dossier handed over to him along with the order of detention under PSA contained “patently false and ridiculous material” and he had been accused of “favouring radical thoughts” and of “planning and projecting his activities against the Union of India under the guise of politic” while enjoying the support of “gullible masses”, the petition submitted.

The intent of exercise of power was to “incarcerate not just him (Omar) but the entire leadership of the National Conference, as well as the leadership of other political parties, who were similarly dealt with including Farooq Abdullah, who has served the state and the union over several years... stood by India whenever the situation so demanded,” she submitted.

The “grounds for the detention order are wholly lacking any material facts or particulars which are imperative for an order of detention, she said in her plea, adding provisions of PSA were “wholly violated” and none of the conditions laid down to justify a detention order exists, “nor is even adverted to”.

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