Supreme Court to hear Sara Abdullah’s plea against brother Omar’s detention today

The Supreme Court will on Thursday hear the petition of Sara Abdullah Pilot, sister of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, against his detention. Omar has been detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).

“The matter pertains to liberty,” a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra had observed on Monday, rejecting Attorney General Venugopal’s opposition to the top court hearing the habeas corpus petition in the case.

Sara Pilot has challenged her brother’s detention under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) which was imposed on him on February 5 this year. The 49-year-old is under detention since August last year when the Centre abrogated Article 370 and placed Kashmir valley in a state of lockdown. His detention in 2019 was under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers an executive magistrate to order a person to execute bonds “for keeping the peace”.

Right before his detention was to expire in February 2020, the administration issued a fresh order under the PSA that allows authorities to detain a person without trial for a maximum period of two years.

In her Habeas Corpus (which literally means produce the body) petition, Sara prayed for orders to produce Abdullah in the Supreme Court. She argued that he is a votary of peace and there is overwhelming evidence to prove the same.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration, meanwhile, informed the Supreme Court on Monday that Omar Abdullah has been detained under the PSA considering his “past conduct” and possibility of such conduct being repeated on his release, which may “prejudice the public order”.

Terming Abdullah as “a very vocal critic” of abrogating Article 370, the J&K administration claimed that his acts squarely fell within the realm of public order as it was “calculated to disturb public peace and tranquility”.

“The detenu has been a very vocal critic of any possible abrogation of Article 370 prior to its abrogation on August 5, 2019. It is submitted that considering the very peculiar geo-political position of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and its geographical proximity with Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the concept of ‘public order’ needs to be examined contextually,” it said.

It also said that Abdullah should have moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to avail his remedy before approaching the apex court.