Apex court issues notices to Centre, J&K Govt on Vaiko’s plea
STATE TIMES NEWS Srinagar: Farooq Abdullah, a three-term chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and five-time parliamentarian, was arrested on Monday under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and his residence was declared as a jail, officials said here. Abdullah has been under detention since August 5, the day the Centre abrogated special status of the state, and the PSA was slapped against him hours before the Supreme Court heard a petition by MDMK leader Vaiko who claimed that Abdullah has been illegally detained in the state. The National Conference President has been booked under the ‘public order’ provision of the PSA under which a person can be kept inside jail from three to six months without a trial, the officials said. Abdullah was served the notice under the PSA at 1 AM on Monday and his Gupkar road house was declared as a jail, the officials said. The 83-year-old Abdullah, who became the first chief minister against whom the PSA has been invoked, has a heart pacemaker implanted and had undergone a kidney transplant a few years ago.
Farooq faces law enacted by Sheikh AbdullahSrinagar: Never would Sheikh Abdullah have imagined that his son Farooq would one day be arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) which he, as the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir in 1978, enacted to fight timber smugglers in the state. The stringent PSA was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir to tackle timber smuggling as those involved in the crime at that time would easily get away with minimal detention, officials said on Monday.Sheikh Abdullah brought the Act as a deterrent against timber smugglers as it provided a jail term, without a trial, for up to two years.However, this Act came in handy for the police and security forces during the early 1990s when terrorism erupted in the state, the officials said.After the then Union home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed enforced the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state in 1990, the PSA was used rampantly for picking up people in the state.On Monday though, the four-decade old Act was used by the police to detain Sheikh Abdullah’s son Farooq, himself a three-term chief minister and five-time parliamentarian.Detention under the PSA is subject to periodic review by an official screening committee and can be challenged in high court.The Act was amended in 2012 and some of its stricter provisions were relaxed. After the amendment, period up to which a first-time offender or individual can be put in detention without trial was reduced from two years to six months.However, a provision has been kept in the Act to extend the detention, if necessary, to up to two years, they said.Sheikh Abdullah’s grandson, Omar Abdullah, who has also served the state as a chief minister, had promised during the Lok Sabha elections that if his government comes to power in the state, it would press for abolition of the PSA.
Immediately after the detention of the sitting Lok Sabha MP, barricading came up on the Gupkar Road and concertina wire laid on the ground to regulate traffic. The PSA has two sections — ‘public order’ and ‘threat to security of the state’. The former allows detention without trial for three to six months and the latter for two years. Abdullah had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his son Omar Abdullah last month, days before the state’s special status was withdrawn. His detention was to ensure that he did not participate in any rally being organised by Vaiko in view of forthcoming United Nations General Assembly, some leaders of his party National Conference said, requesting anonymity. After invoking of the PSA, the government has to constitute a committee which confirms the action. The aggrieved party can represent their case in the High Court for quashing of the PSA. The PSA is applicable only in Jammu and Kashmir. Elsewhere in the country, the equivalent law is the National Security Act (NSA). Besides Abdullah, his son and former chief minister Omar and ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti, several other leaders have 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. Abdullah had last addressed media while climbing a wall of his home on August 6 and said that he was pained at the Centre’s decision on Article 370. The Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond to the Vaiko’s plea that Abdullah be produced before a court. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer issued notice to the Centre and the state administration and asked them to file their replies by September 30 on the plea by Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK leader Vaiko. “Is he (Abdullah) under detention?” the bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Jammu and Kashmir. Without going into the issue of whether Abdullah has been kept under detention, Mehta said, “I do not have a copy of the petition. I have to take instruction on this.” There was no word by the lawyers from any side during the hearing that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has slapped Public Safety Act to detain him under the stringent law. Reports started pouring in later that 81-year-old Abdullah, a three-term chief minister of the state and five-time parliamentarian has been detained under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act. Vaiko’s counsel told the apex court that there were conflicting claims about Abdullah’s status and he has been illegally detained by the authorities, which was an attack on his fundamental rights under the Constitution. “The claim of Union Home Minister is that he (Abdullah) was not detained whereas the National Security Advisor has said that he is detained. There are conflicting claims,” the counsel said, adding that citizens of Jammu and Kashmir are citizens of India and the authorities cannot treat a person like this. The lawyer said Vaiko’s submission in the plea that authorities should allow Abdullah to attend a “peaceful and democratic” annual conference, which was to be organised in Chennai on September 15 on the occasion of birthday of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C N Annadurai, has now become infructuous. “I am pressing for the original prayer for producing him (Abdullah) before the court,” the counsel said. After the bench issued notice on Vaiko’s petition, Mehta questioned his locus in filing a ‘habeas corpus’ petition — a writ requiring a person under detention or arrest to be produced before a court. “He (Vaiko) has no locus. How can he file a habeas corpus petition? He is not his relative. His (Abdullah) relatives have approached the high court there,” Mehta said. The bench however asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their responses on Vaiko’s plea. In his plea, Vaiko, who said that he has been a close friend of Abdullah for the past four decades, has contended that constitutional rights conferred on the National Conference leader had been deprived of on account of “illegal detention without any authority of law”. “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 right to free speech and expression which is the cornerstone of a democratic nation,” the plea has said. “The right to free speech and expression is considered to have paramount importance in a democracy as it allows its citizens to effectively take part in the governance of the country,” it said. Vaiko said he had written a letter to the authorities on August 29 to allow Abdullah to travel to Chennai to attend the conference on September 15 but they have not responded. He has said in his plea that he had spoken to Abdullah over phone on August 4 and had invited him to attend the conference. He claimed that Abdullah had “verbally communicated” that he would be glad to attend the conference but on August 5, Abdullah along with other political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir were placed under “wrongful detention”. The Centre had on August 5 revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed that the state be bifurcated into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
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