SC Issues Notice to J&K Govt Over Omar’s PSA Detention

Congress leader and senior advocate Kapil Sibal had sought an urgent hearing of the matter in apex court.

Updated14 Feb 2020, 08:16 AM IST
India
2 min read

The Supreme Court on Friday, 14 February, issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration on the plea of Sara Abdullah Pilot, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s sister challenging his detention under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA).

The court has asked the administration to file a reply by 2 March.

During the scheduled hearing on Wednesday, 12 February, Justice M M Shantanagoudar recused himself from hearing the plea challenging detention of her brother.

Sara had moved the apex court on 10 February over his detention.

Congress leader and senior advocate Kapil Sibal had sought an urgent hearing of the matter in apex court, which the court has agreed to.

Abdullah's "considerable influence" over people, including the ability to attract voters to polling booths despite poll boycott calls and the potential for channeling energies of public for any cause, has allegedly been cited in support of his detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).

The petition against Abdullah’s detention contented that there were no “material facts” cited as grounds for the detention.

What Does the Rule Book Say?

Omar Abdullah, along with PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, had been under preventive detention since 5 August last year, when the Centre announced the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories – Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.

Both Mufti and Abdullah were booked under the PSA on 6 February night, a few hours before their preventive detention was to end.

As per the rules, preventive detention can be extended beyond six months only if an advisory board, constituted two weeks before the completion of the 180-day period, recommends the same.

‘Antithetical to Democratic Polity’

The petition further added that “a reference to all the public statements and messages posted by Omar Abdullah during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he kept calling for peace and co-operation – messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order.”

The PSA order conflates ‘governmental policy’ with the ‘Indian State’ – suggesting that any opposition to the former constitutes a “threat to the latter.”

“This is wholly antithetical to a democratic polity and undermines the Indian Constitution,” the petition said.

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Published: 10 Feb 2020, 05:35 AM IST
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