SC notice to J&K on plea challenging Omar’s detention

SC notice to J&K on plea challenging Omar’s detention

Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah’s sister Sara Abdullah Pilot leaves the Supreme Court after appearing in a hearing on his detention, in New Delhi Friday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

THE SUPREME Court on Friday sought a reply from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea by Sara Abdullah Pilot, sister of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, challenging his detention under the Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA).

Issuing a notice, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee adjourned the hearing till March 2.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said Abdullah had been in detention since August 4, 2019. He added that Sara’s plea was a Habeus Corpus petition and urged the court to take it up urgently. But the bench said “it cannot be heard overnight”.

The petition had come up before a three-judge bench on February 12. One of the judges - Justice M Shantanagoudar - recused himself from hearing it, following which, it was listed on Friday before the bench headed by Justice Mishra.

Sara, in her plea, contended that Omar’s detention under PSA was “ex-facie mala fide, for entirely political considerations” and urged the Court to quash the same.

The petition said: “It is rare that those who have served the nation as members of Parliament, Chief Ministers of a state, ministers in the Union and have always stood by the national aspirations of India are now perceived as a threat to the state.”

The grounds on which the detention has been ordered are “false and illusory to the extent of being non-existent and are not grounds within the contemplation” of the PSA, it added.

“Apart from the obvious fact that disagreement with the policies of the Central government is a lawful right of a citizen in a democracy (especially to a member of the opposition), it is submitted that all such observations were not supported by any material whether in the form of social media posts or otherwise,” the petition said adding that at no point of time in his “prolific political career”, has Omar resorted to or indulged in conduct unbecoming of a “conscientious public figure”.

She added that “a reference to all the public statements and messages posted by her brother during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he has kept calling for peace and cooperation — messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order”.