Farooq Abdullah detained under Public Safety Act

Our Bureau/PTI New Delhi | Updated on September 16, 2019

Former Chief Minister held under the Public Safety Act, which allows detention of any person without trial for two years

The detention of 81-year-old Farooq Abdullah, Lok Sabha MP and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), came to light on Monday when the Supreme Court heard a bunch of petitions on matters ranging from media clampdown, child rights and free movement to abrogation of Article 370.

The Supreme Court has agreed to entertain a petition filed by the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) challenging the President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir and the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to the State. A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, tagged the petition filed by JKPC with petitions, which have been referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench for examining the legal validity of the Presidential order on the abrogation of Article 370.

The apex court allowed Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit four J&K districts — Srinagar, Jammu, Baramullah and Anantnag — to meet people, but said he cannot hold any political rally. The court also allowed CPI(M) leader Mohd. Yusuf Tarigami to go back to J&K.

Farooq Abullah was reportedly detained under the PSA which is applicable to J&K and allows detention of any person without a trial for two years. The government had thus far not conceded that the ageing patron of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) had indeed been detained. Abdullah is the first Chief Minister to have been detained under this law. On August 6 in Parliament, Home Minister Amit Shah said that Abdullah had neither been detained nor arrested. On the same day, Abdullah while speaking to TV channels had said that he had been kept under arrest in his house.

Abdullah’s son Omar Abdullah, himself a former chief minister, and Mehbooba Mufti, also a former chief minister, have also been under detention since August 5, when the government announced the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and the bifurcation of the State into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The news of Abdullah’s detention, specifically under the PSA, came a few hours before the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a habeas corpus petition filed by Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK leader Vaiko to know the whereabouts of his “friend” and colleague. Vaiko said Abdullah was to attend a programme in Chennai on September 15 on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former Tamil Nadu chief minister CN Annadurai.

“The actions of the respondents (Centre and Jammu and Kashmir) 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 the right to free speech and expression which is the cornerstone of a democratic nation,” Vaiko’s petition said.

SC intervenes

The court issued notices to the Centre and the State and fixed Vaiko’s plea for hearing on September 30.

The top court simultaneously termed as “very very serious” the allegation that people are finding it very difficult to approach the J&K High Court and requested the Chief Justice there to file a report on the matter.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the apex court is bound to take a serious note of the allegation. This particular issue was pertaining to a PIL seeking SC’s intervention on the issue of detention of children in the State. The CJI said he would himself visit Srinagar if required.

“If you are saying so, we are bound to take a serious note of it. Tell us why it is very difficult for people to approach the High Court. Is anybody stopping the people from going to high court. It is very very serious,” said the Bench.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for two child rights activists, told the Bench that it is very difficult for people in the State to access the High Court.

Published on September 16, 2019

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