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Another SC Bench to hear Omar Abdullah’s sister’s plea on Feb 14

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar recused himself from the case on Wednesday.

Sara Abdullah Pilot’s petition challenging the booking of her brother and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah under the Public Safety Act (PSA) is listed before a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee on February 14.

This follows the recusal of Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar from the case on Wednesday.

A short order on Wednesday said the case would be listed “before another Bench since Mr. Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar expressed his inability to participate in the hearing of the matter”. The court had also agreed to a request made by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Ms. Bhat, to list the case again on February 14.

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

Also read | Extended folly: On invocation of PSA against Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti

Ms. Pilot, also represented by senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan. 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.

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, sahe has said.

‘Arbitrary exercise of power’

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”. In fact, she has said, in the past six months there has been no effort by the authorities to verify the truth behind the “information” that Mr. Abdullah was a threat to peace. 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.

Also read | In Kashmir, abnormal is the new normal

Ms. Pilot has urged there was 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.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:43:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/another-sc-bench-to-hear-omar-abdullahs-sisters-plea-on-feb-14/article30809435.ece

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