New Delhi: On the eve of hearing MDMK leader Vaiko’s habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court, the Centre on Sunday night slapped the Public Safety Act (PSA) on former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, according to a report in The Wire. The draconian PSA allows detention for up to two years without a trial.
The National Conference (NC) leader has reportedly been under house arrest since August 5, when the Centre suddenly announced abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two Union territories.
It may be recalled that Union Home Minister Amit Shah, when asked whether Abdullah, a Lok Sabha MP, was under house arrest, had told the House on August 7 that he can’t put a gun to Farooq Abdullah’s “kanpatti” (temple) and bring him out of his house. This was several members of Parliament had expressed concern over the absence of the J&K leader.
Shah went on to add that Abdullah “has neither been arrested nor detained. He is sitting at home of his own will.”
According to reports, the Centre slapped PSA on Sunday night as in the absence of any papers justifying Abdullah’s arrest would have been a major embarrassment for the Centre. The NC leader was detained along with several other leaders of political parties, social activists, lawyers among others.
On Monday, the Supreme Court, also issued a notice to the Centre on the detention of Abdullah and sought a reply from it and the J&K administration by September 30, according to a report India Today. The petition, filed by Tamil Nadu MDMK leader Vaiko, sought the whereabouts of Abdullah and his production in court.
The notice was issued by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer.
According to the HT report, Vaiko's lawyer said there were conflicting claims on the detention of Abdullah. “While in parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed that Farooq Abdullah is not under detention, Vaiko claimed there was still no freedom of movement for the National Conference chief,” the report said.
In fact, while hearing the habeas corpus plea, Gogoi asked the government if Abdullah was under any kind of detention, to which,Solicitor General Tushar Mehta held that Vaiko had no locus standi (right to bring an action to be heard in court) in the case as he was not a family member of Farooq Abdullah.
A habeas corpus is a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person's release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.
In his plea, Vaiko, who claimed to be “close” friend of Abdullah for past four decades, had said that authorities should allow Abdullah to attend a "peaceful and democratic" annual conference, being organised in Chennai on September 15, on the occasion of the birthday of former Tamil Nadu chief minister CN Annadurai.
SC Allows Azad and Tarigami to Visit J&K
Hearing other pleas on Monday, the Supreme Court allowed Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPI(M) leader Yusuf Tarigami (who was ailing and was brought to Delhi after a habeas corpus petition was filed by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury) to visit the state as per a report in LiveLaw.
The apex court, on the condition that Azad does not “engage in an political activities,” allowed him to visit Jammu, Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag. It may be recalled that Azad had made repeated attempts to visit his home state, where he has also bee a chef minister, but was not allowed to step out of Srinagar airport and sent back to Delhi, after which he had moved the top court.
On another plea, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Tarigami, who came to Delhi for treatment after a court order, has been allowed to return, after the bench examined his medical reports from AIIMS, Delhi, and ordered that Tarigami was free to return home to J&K, but declined to order that he was free to move around in the state.
On September 5, the bench also issued notice to the Centre and J&K administration on CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury's plea that there was no common order for Tarigami's detention.