Justice Arun Mishra-led Bench to hear Sara Pilot’s petition

Sara Pilot

Justice Shantanagoudar had recused himself from hearing matter

New Delhi, February 13: Sara Abdullah Pilot’s petition challenging the detention of her brother and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) will come up for hearing on Friday before a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra. 

The other judge on the newly constituted Bench is Justice Indira Banerjee. Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar had on Wednesday recused himself from her petition without assigning any reason for his recusal when it came up for hearing before a three-judge Bench of Justice NV Ramana, Justice MM Shantanagoudar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. 

Terming her brother’s detention under the PSA as “manifestly illegal”, Sara had, on Monday, moved the Supreme Court, seeking the quashing of the February 5 order detaining him under the stringent law.

Fresh orders for the detention of Omar and another former Jammu and Mashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti were issued hours their six-month period of detention under an August 5, 2019, order was due to expire. It was alleged that on the eve of the reorganisation of the state, he allegedly made attempts to provoke general masses against the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A. 

On the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, Omar was put under house arrest and it was later learnt that Section 107 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, was invoked to justify such arrest, she said, demanding that her brother be produced before the top court. 

Maintaining that there was no question of Omar being a “threat to the maintenance of public order”, Sara contended that the detention of individuals, including political leaders, was clearly a mala fide exercise of power to ensure that the opposition to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution was silenced. 

“It is rare that those who have served the nation as members of Parliament, Chief Ministers of a state, ministers in the Union and have always stood by the national aspirations of India are now perceived as a threat to the state,” she submitted. 

The grounds on which Omar Abdullah’s detention had been ordered are “false and illusory to the extent of being non-existent and are not grounds within the contemplation” of the PSA, she contended.

The dossier handed over to him, along with the order of detention under the PSA contained “patently false and ridiculous material” and he had been accused of “favouring radical thoughts” and of “planning and projecting his activities against the Union of India under the guise of politic” while enjoying the support of “gullible masses”, the petition submitted. 

The intent of the exercise of power was to “incarcerate not just him (Omar) but the entire leadership of the National Conference, as well as the leadership of other political parties, who were similarly dealt with, including Farooq Abdullah, who has served the state and the Union over several years… stood by India whenever the situation so demanded,” she submitted.