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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought to know from the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration about plans to release the former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who has been under detention since August when the abrogation of Article 370 was announced.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah told counsel appearing for the Centre that Abdullah’s sister Sara Abdullah Pilot’s plea against his detention will be heard on merit if he is not released soon. “If you are releasing him, then release him soon or we will hear the matter on merits,” the bench said.

Last month, Saara Abdullah Pilot, sister of the former prime minister The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday had filed a plea in the apex court challenging the detention of her brother under the Public Safety Act.

Sara contended that apart from the fact that her brother had disagreements with the policies of the Centre, it is a lawful right of a citizen in a democracy (especially to a member of the opposition) to demonstrate and make his point of view publicly known.

Today, the counsel for the Centre and the J-K administration informed the court that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing in the matter, is arguing in another court. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, said the court should fix a short date for hearing the matter.

To this, the bench said only six benches are functioning due to the ongoing arrangement in the apex court and it does not know when the next turn will come.

“Probably next week we are sitting and the matter will be taken up at that time,” the bench said.

Last week, the centre had released  Omar’s father  Farooq Abdulah by revoking his detention. Abdullah, who was in detention for over seven months, said his “freedom is incomplete till other detained leaders are released”. Abdullah, an ex chief minister and former Union Minister was in detention along with two other former chief ministers including Omar and the PDP Mehbooba Mufti Mohammed.

India Legal Bureau

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