A new Supreme Court bench will take up on Thursday a plea from Sara Abdullah Pilot, the sister of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, against the latter's detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Pilot's plea came up for hearing on Wednesday before a three-judge bench comprising justices N V Ramana, Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna but Shantanagoudar recused himself from hearing the plea.
Sara Abdullah Pilot was seen coming out of the Supreme Court but she refused to comment anything. She said, "My matter still in the court so I won't be commenting right now."
“I will not be part of this (matter)”, Justice Shantanagoudar said. The judge did not elaborate. Justice Shantanagoudar’s decision led the top court to defer the hearing on Sara Abdullah Pilot’s petition. Sara Abdullah Pilot, who is the wife of Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, had moved the plea in the Supreme Court on Monday.
The plea argued that Omar Abdullah's detention is "manifestly illegal" and there is no question of him being a "threat to the maintenance of public order". The plea has sought quashing of the February 5 order detaining Abdullah under the PSA and also sought his production before the court.
Omar Abdullah, who has been in custody for six months, was detained hours before the Centre approached Parliament on August 5 last year to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to the erstwhile state, now split into two union territories. Sara said that exercise of powers 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".
"There has been a grave violation of Articles 14, 21 and 22 of the Constitution," the plea said, adding, "similar orders of detention have been issued by the respondents (authorities of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir) over the last seven months in a wholly mechanical manner to other detenues, which suggest that there has been a consistent and concerted effort to muzzle all political rivals."
(With agency inputs)