The Supreme Court on Monday declined to accept the Centre’s arguments against a petition filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot to challenge the detention of her brother Omar Abdullah and listed the case for final hearing on Thursday.
KK Venugopal, the Centre’s to law officer, had told the bench that Sara Abdullah Pilot had not demonstrated any reason for not approaching the high court in the first instance but directly coming to the Supreme Court.
“The matter pertains to liberty,” a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra observed in response, rejecting Attorney General Venugopal’s opposition to the top court hearing the habeas corpus petition in case of the former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader.
Justice Mishra noted that another case of a similar nature was pending before the top court, a reference to the petition challenging the detention of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party boss Mehbooba Mufti. It isn’t clear if the judges will hear the two cases together.
Sara Abdullah Pilot had challenged her brother’s detention under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) last month after the 49-year-old former chief minister was booked on February 5 under PSA.
Omar Abdullah was detained in August 2019 when the Centre nullified 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 [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.