Supreme Court Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar on Wednesday recused himself from hearing a plea filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s sister Sara challenging his detention under the Public Safety Act, reported Live Law. No reasons were cited for his recusal.
Justices NV Ramana, Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna were supposed to hear the plea on Wednesday. A different bench of the Supreme Court will now take up the matter on Thursday.
The plea, moved by Sarah Abdullah Pilot, was first mentioned before a bench led by Justice Ramana on Monday. The top court had agreed to consider the request for an urgent hearing in the matter.
Abdullah, along with former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and a few other Kashmiri politicians, has been charged under the Act since February 6. Under the PSA, a person may be detained without a trial for three to six months. These leaders have been in detention for six months now since the Centre amended Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 to abrogate the region’s special status, and bifurcated it into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.”
The government dossier used to charge Abdullah reportedly stated that he had “considerable influence” and had the ability to draw voters to polling booths. It also stated that he had allegedly tried to provoke people through Twitter against the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status on August 4, a day before the Centre formally announced it in Parliament. However, no tweets were cited to support the accusations.
The habeas corpus plea filed by Pilot demands the physical presence of Abdullah and the quashing of his detention order. Pilot said in her petition that the dossier “contains patently false and ridiculous material, essentially accusing the detenue of becoming a popular figure among general masses and possessing considerable influence over people”.
“The detenue is accused of convincing people to participate in elections in huge numbers and exercise their democratic right to vote despite threats from militants,” she added. Abdullah had on August 4 asked the people of Jammu and Kashmir to maintain calm. Pilot quoted the same tweet in her petition.
Former Chief Minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah was charged under the PSA on September 17. It was extended by three months in December.
Several Opposition leaders have questioned the government’s move to charge the politicians under the stringent law.