SC to hear Viako’s plea against NC leader’s house arrest on Sep 30; court allows Azad to visit Valley
The Jammu & Kashmir administration on Sunday invoked the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against former State Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to detain him, a day before the Supreme Court took up a petition against his “illegal detention”.
At 81, Abdullah has been charged with “disturbing public order” under the law, which means shorter detention of three months.
On Monday, the SC asked the Centre and the Jammu & Kashmir administration to respond to a plea seeking that Abdullah, allegedly under detention following the scrapping of the State’s special status, be produced before the court.
Meanwhile, the SC allowed Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Kashmir but barred him from holding rallies or public meeting there.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer issued notice to the Centre and the J&K administration, and fixed Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK leader Vaiko’s plea for hearing on September 30.
Vaiko, who said he has been a close friend of Abdullah for the past four decades, has contended that the National Conference leader has been deprived of constitutional rights on account of “illegal detention without any authority of law”.
“Is he (Abdullah) under detention?,” the Bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for J&K. Without going into the issue of whether Abdullah has been kept under detention, Mehta said, “I do not have a copy of the petition. I have to take instruction on this.”
There was no word by the lawyers from any side during the hearing that the Jammu & Kashmir administration has slapped the Public Safety Act to detain Farooq under the stringent law. After the Bench issued notice on Vaiko’s petition, Mehta questioned his locus in filing a “habeas corpus” petition — a writ requiring a person under detention or arrest to be produced before a court.
“He (Vaiko) has no locus. How can he file a habeas corpus petition? He is not his relative. His (Abdullah) relatives have approached the High Court there,” Mehta said. The Bench, however, asked the Centre and the Jammu & Kashmir administration to file their responses on Vaiko’s plea.
In his plea, Vaiko had said authorities should allow Abdullah to attend a “peaceful and democratic” annual conference, being organised in Chennai on September 15, on the occasion of birthday of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister CN Annadurai.
“The actions of the respondents (Centre and J&K) are completely illegal and arbitrary and violative of the right to protection of life and personal liberty, right to protection from arrest and detention and also against right to free speech and expression which is the cornerstone of a democratic nation,” the plea said.
“The right to free speech and expression is considered to have paramount importance in a democracy as it allows its citizens to effectively take part in the governance of the country,” it said. Vaiko said he had written a letter to the authorities on August 29 to allow Abdullah to travel to Chennai to attend the conference but they have not responded.
He has said he had spoken to Abdullah over phone on August 4 and had invited him to attend the conference on September 15.
He claimed Abdullah had “verbally communicated” that he would be glad to attend the conference but on August 5, Abdullah, along with other political leaders of Jammu & Kashmir, were placed under “wrongful detention”.
Reacting to the development, Congress Rajya Sabha MP and Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “I strongly condemn it. It is most unfortunate that a (former) Chief Minister of one of the oldest political parties in Kashmir (has been detained).
“Each Chief Minister, and each political party be it Congress, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party in Jammu & Kashmir have tried their level best to fight militancy. If there is no militancy today, it is because of these political parties and not the BJP,” he told reporters.
Azad was on Monday allowed by the SC to visit four districts in Jammu & Kashmir for assessing the impact on life of daily wagers due to the present situation prevailing after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions. The top court noted Azad’s submission that he will not indulge in any political rally or political activity during his visit.
The Bench allowed Azad to visit Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Jammu districts of the State subject to any restrictions, if any. “We permit the petitioner to go to Srinagar and visit the following districts, subject to restrictions, if any - (i) Srinagar, (ii) Anantnag, (iii) Baramulla and (iv) Jammu.
“The petitioner has undertaken before the court on his own volition that he will not indulge in any political rally or political activity during his visit,” the Bench said. “The visit will solely be concerned with making an assessment of the impact of the present situation on the life of the daily wage earners, if any,” it said. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the former CM said he is at present a Member of Parliament from the State and needs to meet the people.
CPI (M) leader Mohammed Salim accused Shah of lying on the floor of Parliament over the issue of Abdullah’s detention in the wake of abrogation of Article 370. In a tweet, the Left leader attached a video grab of Shah in Parliament last month, in which the Home Minister said Abdullah was neither detained nor arrested.
“Shah lied on the floor of Parliament claiming that Abdullah didn’t come to Lok Sabha on his own will but today we all know that Abdullah had been under detention since 4 August, under the draconian PSA. Does India’s Home Minister has any credibility today?”, Salim tweeted.
Shah on Monday reviewed the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir amidst reports of around 230 terrorists waiting at terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir to enter the country. The two-hour long meeting was attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba. Meanwhile J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the morning and briefed about the security situation in the State.