Farooq Abdullah detained under Public Safety Act for 12 days, his house declared a jail

Hours before the Supreme Court was to hear a petition by Rajya Sabha member Vaiko against the detention of former chief minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, the Home Department of J&K issued orders to detain the Srinagar Member of Parliament under the Public Safety Act (PSA) for 12 days on Sunday night.

As per the latest order under the PSA, his residence has been declared as a subsidiary jail.

A senior government official told The Hindu that Mr. Abdullah will be detained initially for 12 days but the period could be extended for a maximum of three months. Any detention beyond three months will have to be ratified by the PSA Advisory Board. The maximum detention period under PSA, enacted in 1978, is two years.

Rajya Sabha member and Tamil Nadu politician Vaiko had last week moved a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court to have the J&K government produce the former chief minister in court and set him free.

The court heard the petition on Monday and issued notice to the Centre and scheduled the case for hearing on September 30. When the Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi turned to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for a response, the latter questioned the locus standi of Mr. Vaiko to file a habeas corpus petition for Mr. Abdullah. This petition was reserved for family members alone, the law officer claimed.

However, under the habeas corpus law, any person can file a petition and the liability is on the police to produce the missing person in court as proof of his well-being.

Home Minister Amit Shah had told Parliament on August 6 that Mr. Abdullah was neither detained nor arrested and was in the Valley on his own free will. However, in an interview to television channels on the same day, Mr. Abdullah had said Mr. Shah was lying and that he had been put under house arrest. Hours later, the security officials posted at his residence were suspended.

Even though there were no formal orders yet, Mr. Abdullah has been placed under house arrest like hundreds of other political activists since August 4 night.

An official explained that after courts objected to the sweeping powers under PSA, in 2015 new rules were notified and some authority was given to the Home Department to issue such orders that was earlier done by the Divisional Commissioner or District Magistrate. “As per the latest order, the issuing authority cannot mention the period of detention in the order, which earlier used to be six month- one year. The default is 12 days detention now, after that the Home department has to ratify the notification and present the case before the Advisory Board. If the department concurs he could be released after 12 days or can be kept in detention for minimum three months. Beyond that, the department will have to seek the permission of the advisory board,” the official said.

Mr. Vaiko, who is the general secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, explained to the court that the event is organised annually “on the occasion of the birthday of Thiru. C.N. Annadurai, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the spirit of peaceful democratic debate and discussion so as to strengthen the unity and integrity of India”.

The petition said Mr. Abdullah had attended the previous year’s event.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 8:47:35 PM |

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