SRINAGAR – The Supreme Court of India listed the petition filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot, sister of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, challenging his detention under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) for next hearing on March 17.
The matter was listed before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra today but could not be taken up as Justice Mishra was hearing a Constitution bench matter, news agency ANI reported.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Sara, mentioned the matter before the bench, following which Justice Mishra told him that the matter will not be taken up today.
Sibal requested the court to take up the matter as soon as possible as it is a habeas corpus case. The court said that it will hear the matter post the Holi break, the report added.’
Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, both former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state on February 6, were booked under the PSA.
The Public Safety Act (PSA) is an administrative detention law that allows detention of any individual for up to two years without a trial or charge. The Act that allows for the arrest and detention of people without a warrant, specific charges, and often for an unspecified period of time has been in vogue in Kashmir since 1978.
Ironically, PSA was introduced by Omar’s grandfather and the then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 to book timber smugglers but later on it was rampantly used against political opponents and activists seeking Kashmir settlement. Amnesty International has termed it a “lawless law”.
In the previous hearing on Monday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had informed the Apex Court that the NC leader has been detained under the PSA considering his “past conduct” and possibility of such conduct being repeated on his release, which may “prejudice the public order”.
The District Magistrate of Srinagar had also in his reply sought dismissal of the plea on the grounds that Omar had “bypassed the effective alternative remedy” available under the PSA.
“The detenu has chosen not to file a representation before the advisory board. It is submitted that entertaining one petition would open flood gates of petitions which in absence of any special ground to make a departure, needs to be avoided,” the district magistrate said.
Terming Abdullah as “a very vocal critic” of abrogating Article 370, the J&K administration had further claimed that his acts squarely fell within the realm of public order as it was “calculated to disturb public peace and tranquility”.
The J&K administration has said that in the history of independent India the existence and continuance of Article 370 of the Constitution, which used to give special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, has “always remained a contentious and burning issue”.
“The detenu has been a very vocal critic of any possible abrogation of Article 370 prior to its abrogation on August 5, 2019. It is submitted that considering the very peculiar geo-political position of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and its geographical proximity with Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the concept of ‘public order’ needs to be examined contextually,” it said.
It also said that Abdullah should have moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to avail his remedy before approaching the apex court.
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