Vaiko moves SC over Farooq Abdullah’s detention
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader and Rajya Sabha member Vaiko on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking production of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who has reportedly been under house arrest in Srinagar since August 5 when the Centre scrapped Article 370 that gave special status to J&K.
Vaiko filed a habeas corpus [literally means, produce the body] petition for enforcement of fundamental right under Articles 19 [freedom of speech and expression] and 21[ right to liberty]. Filed through advocate Lakshmi Ramamurthy, the petition is yet to be listed for a formal hearing.
The petition said National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah was to participate in the birth anniversary celebrations of late Tamil Nadu chief minister, CN Annadurai, also the founder of the Dravidian movement, on September 15. His participation has, however, become uncertain because of his alleged detention by the central government. He had attended the previous editions of the conference, which Vaiko said, is an annual event.
J&K has been under an undeclared lockdown since August 5 after the Centre diluted the special status extended to the state under Article 370 followed by division of the state into two Union Territories.
“Despite efforts, the petitioner was unable to contact him [Abdullah]. The petitioner vide letter dated 29.08.2019, sought permission of the authorities to allow Abdullah to travel to Chennai, Tamil Nadu in order to attend the conference in the interests of freedom of speech and in the spirit of encouraging democratic participation,” the petition says.
“However, the respondents [Centre] have failed to reply to the letter/representation, which by implication is a denial of permission,” Vaiko said in the petition, terming the detention as completely illegal and arbitrary that also violates the right to protection of life and personal liberty.
“The right to free speech and expression is considered to have paramount importance in a democracy as it allows its citizens to effectively take part in the governance of the country,” the Dravidian leader said, underscoring that freedom of speech and expression is the cornerstone of democracy in India. Reasonable restriction on this right cannot be narrowly tailored and interpreted in order to maintain the spirit of democracy.