The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to clarify on its intention to release former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah from detention, or it would go ahead with hearing his sister’s plea challenging the same, PTI reported. The top court asked the government to let it know of its intention by next week.
“If you are releasing him, then release him soon or we will hear the matter on merits,” said the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah.
The National Conference leader’s sister, Sarah Abdullah Pilot, had challenged his detention under the Public Safety Act. The habeas corpus plea demands the physical presence of Abdullah and the quashing of his detention order. Pilot has said in her petition that the dossier against him “contains patently false and ridiculous material, essentially accusing the detenue of becoming a popular figure among general masses and possessing considerable influence over people”.
In an earlier hearing, the Centre had argued that Pilot directly moved the Supreme Court and never gave a reason as to why she did not approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration, had said Abdullah continued to be a threat to public order. He claimed that the mere presence of the former chief minister would pose an “imminent threat of deterioration of maintaining the public order”.
Abdullah, along with former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and some other Kashmiri politicians, has been charged under the Public Safety Act since February 6. Under the PSA, a person may be detained without trial for three to six years. These leaders have been in detention for six months now since the Centre hollowed out 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.
Abdullah’s father, 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. However, he was released on Friday.
Several Opposition leaders have questioned the government’s move to charge the politicians under the stringent law.