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New Delhi, March 2, 2020
"Matter pertaining to liberty can be entertained," said the Supreme Court on Monday agreeing to hear a plea by Sara Abdullah Pilot challenging the detention of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and her brother Omar Abdullah. Pilot had filed a habeas corpus in the top court.
Attorney General (AG) K. K. Venugopal, representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration, contended before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra that no reason has been produced by the petitioner for not moving the High Court in the matter.
"Even in detention matters, one is supposed to move the High Court at the first instance," said the AG citing data on petitions of similar nature filed before the High Court and the progress made on them.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration in its response said Abdullah has been a vocal critic of the move to revoke Article 370 even before its abrogation on August 5. "It is submitted considering very peculiar geopolitical position of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and its geographical proximity to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the concept of public order needs to be examined contextually," said the affidavit filed in the top court.
The administration also said there is enough material and grounds to continue Abdullah's detention considering the "past conduct and the possibility of such conduct being repeated on release and thereby prejudcing public order in the Union Territory."
"Matter pertains to liberty can be entertained," said Justice Mishra listing the matter for final disposal on Thursday this week. The court also took on record the response of the Jammu and Kashmir administration.
Justice Mishra observed that there is another similar matter -- plea filed by the daughter of Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
The court indicated the listing of the matter for hearing on Tuesday, but the AG cited his inability to attend, as he has a special bench. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is also representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration, contended before the court that his reply is ready and he has shared a copy of it with the petitioner. Senior advocate Kapi Sibal, representing Pilot, said the reply was handed over before the beginning of the hearing, but then there is no issue with it.