New Delhi: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's sister, Sara Abdullah Pilot, on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging his detention and slapping of charges under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, PTI reported.
Sibal told the bench that they had filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the detention of Abdullah, a National Conference (NC) leader, under PSA and the matter should be heard this week.
The bench agreed for urgent listing of the matter.
On the night of February 6, a few hours before their detention was to end, the Centre clapped charges under PSA on former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah od NC and Mehbooba Mufti, of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Incidentally, charges under PSA were slapped soon After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing a new item from a satiricial website ‘Faking News’ accused Abdullah of making ‘objectionable’ statements.
While slapping PSA on Abdullah, the Centre cited his "considerable influence" over people, including the ability to attract voters to polling booths despite poll boycott calls and the potential for channelling energies of public for any cause.
In her petition, Sara Pilot has said her brother's detention was a grave violation of his constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, and is part of a "consistent and concerted effort to muzzle all political rivals".
"The order 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," the petition says, as cited by NDTV.
"...a reference to all the public statements and messages posted by the detinue during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he kept calling for peace and co-operation - messages which in Gandhi's India cannot remotely affect public order."
Mr Abdullah was not even served with the material that formed the basis of detention, the petition says.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti has been accused of making anti-national statements and extending support to organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islamia of the state, which has been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Mufti’s daughter, Ilitija, has, however, refuted all charges against her mother point by point in the media.
Iltija, who operates her mother’s Twitter handle, claimed that the PDP chief was slapped with the PSA because of her refusal to sign “an illegal bond that no statements against scrapping of Article 370 will be made”, according to the Indian Express.
“However, BJP can exploit Article 370 esp in election campaigns inc Delhi but those most affected by it cannot utter a word. Why is BJP scared of a debate?” she tweeted on Sunday.
The PSA dossier prepared by the police against the 49-year-old Omar, who had served as minister of state for external affairs as well as commerce and industries, states his ability to convince electorates to vote in huge numbers even during the peak of militancy and poll boycott calls by separatists and militants.
The grounds of detention against Omar, who was chief minister of the state from 2009-14, state that on the eve of reorganisation of the state he had made attempts to provoke general masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35-A.
The grounds also mention his comments on social networking sites to instigate common people against the decisions on Articles 370 and 35-A which had the potential of disturbing public order.
However, the police have neither mentioned any of Omar's social media posts in the dossier nor in the order for grounds of his detention.
"To the people of Kashmir, we don't know what is in store for us.......stay safe and above all please stay calm," was the last few tweets of Omar before he was taken to Hari Nivas for preventive detention.
Omar Abdullah and the 60-year-old Mehbooba Mufti had been under preventive detention since August 5 last year, when the Centre announced abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution taking away the erstwhile state’s special status and dividing it into two Union territories -- Ladakh, and J&K.
Bothe leaders were arrested along with several others, including social activists, lawyers, students and businesspersons.
According to rules, preventive detention can be extended beyond six months only if an advisory board, constituted two weeks before the completion of the 180-day period, recommends for that.
Mehbooba has been slapped with the PSA for her remarks which included challenging accession of J&K to India in case the Article 370 was abrogated.
The statements of the former chief minister, whose party was an ally of the BJP till June 2018, on security forces killing militants was also made a part of the PSA dossier against her.
Meanwhile, several political parties, such as Congress, CPI(M), DMK and Trinamool Congress have condemned the Centre’s move to slap PSA on Kashmiri leaders.
Earlier, after restoration of 2G, an almost unrecognisable photograph of detained Omar Abdullah has surfaced online, creating a flutter across India, with people expressing their concern and anger.
(With inputs from PTI)