The Supreme Court today has sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration, on a plea challenging the detention of former Chief Minister of J&K Mehbooba Mufti, under the Public Safety Act, 1978.
The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Iltija Mufti, daughter of ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti, who challenged the government’s order dated 5 February, for invoking the Public Safety Act provision against Mehbooba Mufti to keep her in detention. In this regard, the bench asked Iltija to give an undertaking stating that she has not filed any other petition before another judicial forum, including the high court, challenging the detention of her mother.
The petition argued that the language of the dossier, on which the PSA order is based, shows it was prepared with mala fide intent. The grounds for detention specified in the order are “ex-facie illusory to the extent of being vague and irrelevant”, which means the relevant officer didn’t apply his mind before ordering it, as required by law.
Earlier, a similar notice was given to the J&K administration over the detention of former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah under the Public Safety Act, on a plea filed by his sister, Sara Pilot.
On 10 February, Sara approached the SC with a habeas corpus petition challenging her brother’s detention order dated 5 February saying the order of detention is ‘manifestly illegal’ and there is no question of him being a ‘threat to the maintenance of public order.’ The petition sought for Abdullah’s physical presence while his detention order is being quashed by the apex court.
Mehbooba Mufti has been in detention since 5 August 2019, when Centre abrogated Article 370 and converted Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory. Thereafter, before the expiry of six months of the detention period which was earlier ordered on 5 August 2019 under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, fresh detention orders under the Public Safety Act were issued against Mehbooba Mufti and another ex-Chief Minister of J&K Omar, in February 2020.
The bench has further posted the plea for hearing on 18 March.