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Former Congress Leader Saifuddin Soz Moves SC Challenging His Detention Under PSA

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A Habeas Corpus petition has been filed in the Supreme Court on the behalf of Dr. Saifuddin Soz, Former Union Minister and Senior Congress Leader, challenging his house arrest and prolonged detention since August 5, 2019.

Petition has been filed by the Petitioner “Mrs. Mumtazunnisa Soz”, Wife of Dr. Saifuddin Soz (“Detenu”), invoking Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking issuance of a writ in the nature of Habeas Corpus forthe production of her husband, before the Supreme Court, andan appropriate writ for quashing the order(s) of detentionpassed by Government of Union Territory of Jammu andKashmir, Respondent No. 2, along with other directions.

The detenu was informed of his house arrest by the security guards of his house situated at Shehjar, Humhama Heights, Airport Avenue, Srinagar, Kashmir in the morning of 05.08.2019, when Central Government passed a Presidential Order revoking the status of the (erstwhile) State of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India. Ten months have passed since his first detention, and he is yet to be informed of his grounds of detention.

The petitioner said that his detention is wholly contrary and perverse to the constitutional safeguards laid down under Article 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India, as well as the law on preventive detention. Not only does it attract the vice of unconstitutionality, it is also in stark contravention of the statutory scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 under which the detention has purportedly been made.

It was mentioned by the petitioner that he has not committed any breach of peace, neither has he disturbed the public tranquillity, nor is he likely to do any wrongful act that will occasion a breach of peace or cause any disturbance of public tranquillity. However, Prof. Soz has been detained and put under house arrest since August of 2019 and the reasons for detention and arrest have never been informed till date,thereby making his detention not only illegal, malafide and unconstitutional, but also extremely appalling.

Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India, provides that whenany person is detained in pursuance of an order made underany law providing for preventive detention, the authority making the order shall, as soon as may be, communicate to such person the grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest possible opportunity of making representation against the order. In the instant case, the Respondents did not adhere to any of the constitutional safeguards to the detenu’s fundamental right outlined above.

Thereafter, it was contended by the Dr.Saifuddin Soz’s wife -petitioner that due to non-furnishing of grounds of detention to the detenuas well as the non-supply of a copy of the detention order(s),the detenu could not make any representation, let alone an effective representation against the detention order(s) at the earliest opportunity. In fact, it has been ten months since the detenu was placed on house arrest as per the purported directions of Respondent No. 2, and he has still not been furnished a copy of the Order in order to be able to make a representation, as set out under Article 22(5) as well as Section 13 of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.

“The detention of Prof. Saifuddin Soz is wholly contrary and perverse to the constitutional safeguards laid down under Article 21 and 22, as well as the law on preventive detention.Not only does it attract the vice of unconstitutionality, it is also in contravention of the statutory scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, under which the detention has purportedly been made.

The powers to make orders for detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 have been outlined under Section 8 of the Act. The Government may direct for the detention of the person if it is satisfied that any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State,or the maintenance of the public order. In this regard, it maybe appreciated that the detenu is a senior citizen and an octogenarian”, mentioned in the petition.

-India Legal Bureau

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