SC To Hear Plea Challenging Omar’s Detention Under PSA Today

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Omar Abdullah – KO File Pic

NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court will hear on Wednesday a plea filed by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s sister challenging his detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana will hear the plea of Sara Abdullah Pilot, who has said that Abdullah’s detention is “manifestly illegal” and there is no question of him being a “threat to the maintenance of public order”.

The plea has sought quashing of February 5 order detaining Abdullah under the PSA and also sought his production before the court.

Pilot has said that exercise of powers by the 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”.

Her plea said the intent of exercise of power was to “incarcerate not just him (Omar Abdullah) but the entire leadership of the National Conference, as well as the leadership of other political parties, who were similarly dealt with including Farooq Abdullah, who has served the state and the union over several years… stood by India whenever the situation so demanded.”

It said that on the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, Omar Abdullah was put under house arrest and it was later learnt that section 107 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 was invoked to justify such arrest.

“There has been a grave violation of Articles 14, 21 and 22 of the Constitution,” the plea said, adding, “similar orders of detention have been issued by the Respondents (authorities of union territory of Jammu and Kashmir) over the last seven months in a wholly mechanical manner to other detenues, which suggest that there has been a consistent and concerted effort to muzzle all political rivals”.

It said there could be no material available to detain a person who has already been detained for previous six months and the “grounds for the detention order are wholly lacking any material facts or particulars which are imperative for an order of detention”.

“In fact, a reference to all the public statements and messages posted by the detenue (Omar Abdullah) during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he has kept calling for peace and co-operation – messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order,” it said.

The plea said Omar Abdullah was not even served with the material that formed the basis of grounds of detention order and its non-supply vitiates the detention, which is liable to be quashed.

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 Abdullah, who was chief minister of the state from 2009-14, claims 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 Abdullah, who has been junior foreign minister and commerce minister in 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.

Chidambaram Mocks Grounds Of Detention

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram took a dig at the dossiers prepared by the J-K Police for applying the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against Kashmiri leaders Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, saying whoever drafted those documents deserved to be sacked and sent to law school.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s “considerable influence” over people, including the ability to attract voters to polling booths despite poll boycott calls and the potential for channelling energies of public for any cause, has been cited in support of his detention under the PSA.

His political opponent and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti has been accused of making anti-national statements and extending support to organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islamia of the state, which has been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The former finance minister on Twitter said, “Whoever drafted the grounds of detention of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti deserves to be sacked and sent to law school.”

The PSA dossier prepared by the police against 49-year-old Abdullah, who had served as minister of state for external affairs as well as commerce and industries, states his ability to convince electorates to vote in huge numbers even during the peak of militancy and poll boycott calls by separatists and militants.

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