New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot challenging the detention of her brother and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah under the Public Safety Act.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee issued notice to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Pilot’s plea and posted the matter for further hearing on March 2.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Pilot, told the apex court that it is a habeas corpus petition and Omar has been kept in detention since August 4 last year.
Habeas corpus is a writ seeking production of person, who has allegedly been in illegal detention, before a court.
“He was in detention under section 107 of the CrPC. Now, he has been detained under the PSA,” Sibal said.
To this, the bench asked him, “What are the grounds of detention? Let us see.”
Sibal referred to the dossier handed over to Omar by the Superintendent of Police and said the grounds of detention are already mentioned there.
He said the dossier claimed that Omar has been detained under the PSA to avoid statements by the political leader, prevent violence and maintenance of law and order.
“Has any petition been filed in the Jammu and Kashmir high court by anybody on your behalf? Verify whether anything is pending there,” the bench told Sibal and asked him to file an affidavit in this regard.
The senior advocate told the court that nobody has filed anything in the high court on their behalf and the bench can record his statement on this.
“No counter affidavit is required in the matter as grounds of detention are already there,” he said.
After issuing notice, the bench said the matter will be heard after three weeks.
Sibal urged the court that the matter be heard next week as it is a habeas corpus petition concerning liberty of an individual.
When Sibal said that it would delay the matter, the bench said, “You have waited for so long. Wait for 15 more days.
Sibal said there was no delay on their part as Omar was in detention since August last year.
“She (Sara) has not waited for one year. He was in detention. He is now in preventive detention under the PSA. Kindly have it next week. It is a fresh detention order,” he said.
To this, the bench said, “It can’t be heard overnight. Sorry.”
While talking to reporters after the hearing, Pilot said all Kashmiris should have the same rights as other citizens of the country.
She said she was hopeful of an early hearing as it was “a habeas corpus case and the relief would be sooner”.
She said that she and her family had full faith in the justice system.
“We are here because we want all Kashmiris should have the same rights as the citizens of India and we are waiting for that day,” she said and did not take any further questions from journalists.
Pilot had on February 10 approached the apex court challenging her brother’s detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, saying the order was “manifestly illegal” and there was no question of him being a “threat to the maintenance of public order”.
The plea sought quashing of the February 5 order detaining Omar, who was chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir from 2009-14, under the PSA and also his production before the court.
Pilot has said that exercise of powers by authorities under the CrPC to detain individuals, including political leaders, was “clearly mala fide to ensure that the opposition to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution is silenced”.
The plea said that on the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, Omar was put under house arrest and it was later learnt that section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 was invoked to justify it.
It said that at no point of time in his “prolific political career”, he has resorted to or indulged in conduct unbecoming of a “conscientious public figure”.
The grounds of detention against Omar claim that on the eve of reorganisation of the state, he had allegedly made attempts to provoke general masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A.
Omar, who has been junior foreign minister and commerce minister in the 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.