PSA on Omar: SC gives J&K 15 days to explain

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Jammu & Kashmir administration to offer within 15 days its justification for detention of former CM Omar Abdullah from February 5 under the Public Safety Act.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee issued notice to the Union territory government on a habeas corpus petition filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot seeking freedom for her brother and directed filing of the response by March 2, the next date of hearing after senior advocate Kapil Sibal clarified that no other petition challenging Abdullah’s detention was pending in J&K High Court.
Sibal had strongly argued against granting J&K a fortnight to file response, saying a habeas corpus petition required urgent hearing as it involved a person’s liberty and right to life. “If 15 days time is given to the administration, they will make us go round and round by asking us to appear before the advisory board (which is mandated by the SC in a recent judgment to periodically review all detentions),” he said.
“A week should be more than adequate for the administration to respond to the habeas corpus,” Sibal pleaded but the bench refused to relent. Sibal had to spend some time explaining to the bench the distinction between Abdullah’s detention from August 5, when the Centre scrapped J&K’s special status under Article 370, and the fresh detention from February 5 under PSA. It was the February 5 order that was under challenge, he said.
Sibal asked when Abdullah had been under detention for the last six months, what danger could he pose to public safety or law and order? Referring to Abdullah’s credentials, from being junior foreign minister to J&K CM from 2009-2014, Sara in her petition has sought quashing of the detention order terming it “arbitrary and mala fide”.
She said her brother’s public statements and messages posted on social media prior to his detention from August 5 “would reveal that he kept calling for peace and cooperation, messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order”. She added, “It is rare that those who have served the nation as MP, chief minister of a state, minister in the Union government and have always stood by the national aspirations of India, are now perceived as a threat to the state.”

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