SC to hear plea against detention of Mehbooba Mufti 7 months after it was last heard
The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a Habeas Corpus plea challenging the detention of former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).
The plea filed by Mufti’s daughter Iltija will be heard by a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy more than 7 months after it was last heard on February 26 when the top court had issued notice to the central government and union territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The court had, on February 26, ordered the case to be posted for further hearing on March 18 but it was never listed after Covid-19 pandemic broke out and the apex court started functioning through video conference.
Iltija submitted that the detention of Mufti is based on vague and slanderous ground demonstrating personal and political bias against her. It was contended that the detention order of February 5 against Mufti was founded upon a dossier prepared by the Superintendent of Police, Srinagar which itself was replete personal remarks against Mufti and in bad taste.
“The detention order is wholly based on the dossier which is slanderous, libelous and clearly demonstrative of the political and personal bias against the detenu (Mehbooba Mufti)”, the Habeas Corpus petition stated.
The term Habeas Corpus literally translates to “produce the body” and it is a plea seeking directions to be issued to the government to produce a detained person before the court and to release such person if the detention is found to be illegal.
Mufti has been under detention since August 5, 2019 when the Central government nullified Article 370 and placed the Kashmir valley in a state of lockdown. Her 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”.
She had been in custody for six months and her detention was set to expire in February 2020 when a new detention order was issued on February 5 under the PSA which allows the administration to detain a person
without trial for a maximum period of two years.
The continued detention it was alleged by Iltija was because of the refusal by Mufti to sign a general bond affirming that in case of release, she will not make any comment, deliver any speech or attend any public assembly related to the recent events in Jammu & Kashmir.
Iltija stated that the dossier, which was the basis for Mufti’s detention, was abound with vulgar descriptions about Mufti like “Daddy’s girl” and “Kota Rani”, the latter a medieval queen who rose to power through scheming and poisoning of opponents.
The dossier, it was claimed, also contained unwarranted remarks about the marital status of Mufti and described her as “hard headed” and possessing a “scheming mind”.
It was Iltija’s case that the detention of Mufti was based only on the grounds contained in the dossier and those grounds have no tendency to disturb public order.
The detention order referred to opinions expressed by Mufti in the past as the basis for detention though there is not even the minutest suggestion that Mufti involved in any violent activity ever, the plea stated.
Further, the detention order mentioned 12 statements made by Mufti though it did not mention any adverse impact of such statements on law and order.
“Moreover the utterances were not even considered worthy of registering an FIR”, the plea said.