Detention of NRI Businessman: SC Seeks Response from J&K Govt.

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NEW DELHI –  The Supreme Court Friday asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond to a plea by a Malaysia-based NRI businessman’s wife challenging the detention of her husband following the abrogation of Article 370.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi agreed to hear the plea, which has sought a direction to the authorities to produce the businessman before the court, and asked the state administration to file its response within two weeks.

“Issue notice, returnable within two weeks,” said the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer.

The petition has been filed by Asifa Mubeen, wife of Mubeen Ahmad Shah, seeking quashing of the August 7 order of detention along with the grounds of detention under section 8(1)(a) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.

In her plea, she has said that her husband is currently lodged at Agra Central jail and he has been “wrongfully deprived” of liberty.

“The detenu (Shah), a senior and well respected citizen of India, a qualified doctor and leading NRI businessman based in Malaysia, with a serious medical illness, has been illegally deprived of his life and liberty for more than 40 days since August 5, 2019,” the plea said.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for state administration, told the bench that perhaps the brother of detenu has approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the matter.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for the petitioner, told the bench that Shah’s brother has not approached the high court and they have disclosed in the petition about a matter pending in the high court there.

“He has mentioned this in the petition. Grounds of detention has not been challenged there (in high court). He says that somebody else has filed it and they do not know about this,” the bench told Mehta.

In her plea, Mubeen has said that without her consent, a common writ petition was sent through e-mail to the registry of the high court from United States of America by one Mufti Showkat Farooqi, regarding detention of four persons including Shah, and the matter is currently pending there.

The plea mention the matter pending before the high court regarding detention of four persons, but it has been filed only for production of Shah before the court.

It said that Shah had come to Srinagar on April 18 to attend the last rites of his sister-in-law and continued to stay there since his father-in-law was unwell and passed away in July.

The plea said since Shah was not keeping well during that period, he was admitted to a hospital in Srinagar in May for treatment.

“In the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, the detenu (Shah) was arrested illegally without any warrant from his residence at Buchwara, Dalgate, Srinagar and taken to the local police station. At the time of the arrest, the detenu was not even informed about the reasons and grounds of his arrest,” it said.

The plea said that Shah is suffering from multiple ailments, including acute renal problem which has aggravated during the course of lodgement at Agra Jail.

It said the detenu has no criminal antecedents and has an “impeccable and unblemished record as a leading businessman of the valley.”

It said that grounds, on which the detention was ordered, “are not grounds within the contemplation of the Public Safety Act, 1978 rendering in sequel thereto the detention of the detenu illegal and unconstitutional and hence liable to be quashed.”

“The impugned order of detention is vitiated in law for the grounds of detention of the detenu on the face of it are too vague and cryptic and do not answer any of the imperatives as contemplated under the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978 and as such is liable to be quashed,” it said, adding that grounds of on the face of it are “illusory”.

It said the detention “violates with impunity the constitutional guarantees under Article 21 of the Constitution of India” of the detenu and is arbitrary and unsustainable in law.

 


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