Omar Abdullah's sister moves SC challenging his detention under PSA, says purpose of arrest to 'muzzle' Opposition

While former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was booked under the PSA in September, 2019, two other former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, were booked under the stringent law on 6 February. In December 2019, Farooq's detention was extended for three more months.

FP Staff February 10, 2020 15:21:36 IST
Omar Abdullah's sister moves SC challenging his detention under PSA, says purpose of arrest to 'muzzle' Opposition
  • The petition contended that no new material to justify Omar's detention has been presented since 5 August.

  • It also said that the detention was based solely on 'political reasons to muzzle the Opposition'.

  • Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's sister, Sara Abdullah Pilot, moved the Supreme Court on Monday to challenge his detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

The petition contended that no new material to justify Omar's detention has been presented since 5 August. It also said that the detention was based solely on "political reasons to muzzle the Opposition".

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana.

Sibal told the bench that they have filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the detention of Abdullah under the PSA and the matter should be heard this week. The bench agreed for urgent listing of the matter.

In her petition, Pilot has said that there could be no material available to detain a person who has already been detained previously for six months. "The grounds for the detention order are wholly lacking any material facts or particulars which are imperative for an order of detention," the plea said, adding that the detention order is "illegal".

"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," the plea said.

It said that on the intervening night of August 4/5, 2019, Abdullah was put under house arrest. "It was later learned that Section 107 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 was invoked justifying such arrest. 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 3 of the Constitution, a violation of which is anathema to all that a democratic nation stands for," the plea said.

"Finally the order conflates governmental policy with the Indian state, suggesting that any opposition to the former constitute a threat to the later. This is wholly antithetical to a democratic polity and undermines the Indian constitution," the petition said.

The grounds of detention against Omar, who was chief minister of the state from 2009-14, state that on the eve of reorganisation of the state he had made attempts to provoke general masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A. The grounds also mention his comments on social networking sites to instigate common people against the decisions on Articles 370 and 35-A which had the potential of disturbing public order.

Omar, who has been junior foreign minister and commerce minister in 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.

While former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was booked under the PSA in September, 2019, two other former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti — were booked under the stringent law on 6 February. In December 2019, Farooq's detention was extended for three more months.

On 8 February, 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir administration also slapped the stringent PSA on senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar.

He became the sixth mainstream leader in Kashmir to be booked under the PSA, which was enacted in 1978 to deal with rampant timber-smuggling.

National Conference (NC) general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and PDP leader Sarah Madni have also been detained under the PSA.

Several mainstream politicians were taken into preventive custody ahead of the Centre's announcement on abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on 5 August last year. Over 20 leaders have either been released or shifted to their residences and put under house arrest.

With inputs from PTI

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