SC notice to J&K on plea against Omar’s detentionUpdated: Feb 14, 2020 23:37 IST
The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir in a petition filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot challenging the detention of her brother and former Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) chief minister Omar Abdullah under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).
The J&K administration has to respond by March 2, which is the next date of hearing.
Omar Abdullah, 49, was booked on February 5 under PSA which allows authorities to detain a person without trial for a maximum period of two years.
Abdullah was earlier detained in August 2019, when the Central government nullified Article 370 and placed Kashmir valley in a state of lockdown. His detention in 2019 was under Section 107 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, which empowers an executive magistrate to order a person to execute bonds “for keeping the peace”.
He had been in custody for six months and his detention was set to expire in February 2020 when a new detention order was issued on February 5 under PSA.
A plea by senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sara Abdullah Pilot, to have the case on an earlier date was turned down by the bench of justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee.
“It is a Habeas Corpus petition, My Lord. Please have it next week”, said Sibal.
“No, no. We cannot have it next week. Why did you wait for a year [to move the court]?”, remarked justice Arun Mishra, who was heading the bench.
Sibal pointed out that the initial detention was under Section 107 of CrPC, while the fresh detention under PSA happened only on February 5 and the petitioner approached the court immediately after that.
The bench, however, posted the case for hearing on March 2.
In her Habeas Corpus petition, Sara Abdullah prayed for the production of Omar Abdullah in the Supreme Court, arguing that Abdullah is a votary of peace and there is overwhelming evidence in the form of tweets and public statements to prove the same.
“...the Dossier handed over to the detenu along with the order of detention under the PSA contains patently false and ridiculous material, essentially accusing the detenu of becoming a popular figure among general masses and possessing considerable influence over people”, the petition said.
The petition referred to tweets and public statements of Abdullah, which Sara said was proof that there was no likelihood of Abdullah indulging in activities which would be detrimental to public order including tweets put out by him cautioning people against resorting to violence and taking law into their hands.
The petitioner also pointed out that Abdullah was earlier detained from August 7, 2019 under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. After the lapse of that detention order, existence of fresh grounds and material were essential for ordering his further detention. But no such material, which justified the PSA order, had been unearthed, the petitioner said.
“..On expiry of an order of detention, a new order of detention cannot be issued without the existence of new facts/ grounds and new material substantiating such grounds and any such order passed without such new facts and material would be illegal and liable to be set aside”, the petitioner argued.
Further, it was her argument that none of the grounds in the detention order disclose precisely which prohibited action listed in Section 8(3)(b) of the PSA was committed or likely to be committed by Abdullah. Such actions include using force or instigating use of force to disturb public order, promoting hatred or disharmony on the ground of religions, caste, region etc.
This, Sara Abdullah alleged, showed complete non- application of mind and a mechanical exercise of power by the District Magistrate, who passed the detention order.