Supreme Court judge M M Shantanagoudar on Wednesday recused himself from hearing a petition by Sara Abdullah Pilot, challenging the detention of her brother and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
A bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna was to take up the plea but as the case was called for hearing, Justice Shantanagoudar recused himself, saying,“I will not hear this matter.”
The case is now likely to be listed before another bench on Friday.
Sara, wife of Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, had moved the plea in the apex court on Monday, seeking issuance of a writ of habeas corpus to the authorities to forthwith produce Omar before the court and set him at liberty.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Sara, mentioned that that he would not be available tomorrow after which the court felt that the plea may be taken up on Friday.
Sara has said the detention of her 49-year-old brother and National Conference leader Omar under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, on February 5, 2020 is “manifestly illegal” and there is no question of him being a “threat to the maintenance of public order”.
Noting that she gravely concerned about the welfare, safety and security of her brother, Sara has said Omar has been under detention since August 5 last year when the Centre abrogated the specials status of Jammu and Kashmir of under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The petition has said Omar’s six month period of detention was supposed to end last Friday, but fresh detention orders under the PSA were issued against him and former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti before the expiry of that detention period.
Omar was under detention under section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) since last year without charges, it has said, adding the exercise of power by the authorities under the CrPC to detain individuals, including political leaders, was “clearly mala fide to ensure that the opposition to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution is silenced”.
The plea has submitted that the intent of 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”.
It has said, “In fact, a reference to all the public statements and messages posted by the detenue (Omar) during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he has kept calling for peace and co-operation – messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order.” T
The petition has contended that his detention is politically motivated and is a part of concerted effort to muzzle all political rivals. Mere opposition to the policy of the central government is being projected as against national interest to justify the detention, it has claimed.
In its detention order, the government has cited Omar’s popularity among masses and his ability to convince electorates to vote in large numbers even during the peak of militancy in the Kashmir Valley.
The plea has said Omar was not even served with the material that formed the basis of grounds of detention order and its non-supply vitiates the detention, which is liable to be quashed.