Supreme Court to hear Omar sister’s plea today

A petition filed by the sister of the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Sara Abdullah Pilot, is scheduled to be heard by a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice N.V. Ramana on February 12. She has approached the court against the government’s move to charge him under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

The other judges on the Bench are Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna.

Ms. Pilot has urged for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to the authorities to forthwith produce Mr. Abdullah before the court and set him at liberty.

The petition, represented by senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Gopal Sankaranarayanan, was mentioned before a Bench led by Justice Ramana on Monday.

Ms. Pilot has said she was gravely concerned about the welfare, safety and security of her brother. He was already under detention from August 5 last – the day the Centre removed the special rights of the Kashmiri people under Article 370 – when the PSA was slapped on him on February 5, 2020.

Ms. Pilot has said she was shocked to learn that just like what happened to their father, the government has imposed a fresh lease of detention under the PSA on her brother too.

She has noted that Mr. Abdullah’s detention from August 5 under Section 107 CrPC (security for keeping the peace) was scheduled to end on February 5. His release was imminent. He had served the maximum period of detention.

On February 5, the Executive Magistrate, instead of releasing him, ordered his further detention under Section 8 of the PSA of 1978 in an “arbitrary exercise of power”.

Ms. Pilot asked what was the point of detaining a man already detained through the long months of lockdown suffered across J&K.

In fact, she has said, in the past six months, there had been no effort by authorities to verify the truth behind the “information” that Mr. Abdullah is a threat to peace. In fact, on the other hand, there are reams of material in the form of tweets and public statements vouching for his exemplary conduct to maintain peace.

Ms. Pilot has urged there is danger to her brother’s life and liberty.

The government, in its PSA dossier on Mr. Abdullah, has described him as a threat to public safety. It said he was “planning activities against the Union government”. It has also highlighted “his popularity and potential to draw voters to polling booths”.

The petition has argued that the detention order is illegal as it 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,” it has said.

Both the dossier and detention order contain “patently false and ridiculous material, essentially accusing the detenu of becoming a popular figure among general masses”. The grounds of detention are at best “illusory, vague and irrelevant”, Ms. Pilot has contended.


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