PSA on Omar Abdullah due to ‘past conduct’: J&K admin to SC

SC to hear on March 5 Sara Abullah Pilot’s plea

NEW DELHI: The Jammu and Kashmir administration informed the Supreme Court on Monday that National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) considering his “past conduct” and possibility of such conduct being repeated on his release, which may “prejudice the public order”.
Terming Abdullah as “a very vocal critic” of abrogating Article 370, the J&K administration claimed that his acts squarely fell within the realm of public order as it was “calculated to disturb public peace and tranquility”.
The District Magistrate of Srinagar has mentioned this reason in his reply filed to a plea by Sara Abdullah Pilot, who has challenged in Supreme Court the detention of her brother Omar Abdullah under PSA.
The J&K administration told the Supreme Court, “It is submitted that considering the very peculiar geo-political position of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and its geographical proximity with Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the concept of ‘public order’ needs to be examined contextually.”
It also said that Abdullah should have moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to avail his remedy before approaching the apex court.
The matter came up for hearing on Monday before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for J&K administration, told the bench about the reply filed by the district magistrate.
The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on March 5, said the petitioner can file rejoinder, if any, to it.
The J&K administration further said that the J&K High Court is seized of over 350 habeas corpus petitions and pleas challenging the PSA detention orders.
“It is further submitted that the high court is fully functional and has in fact quashed 68 detention orders since August 2019 while confirming 11 detention orders passed by the appropriate authority,” it said, adding that the petitioner has failed to disclose the reason for not approaching the High Court first.
“It is submitted that entertaining one petition would open flood gates of petitions which in absence of any special ground to make a departure, needs to be avoided,” it said.
Seeking dismissal of the plea for “bypassing the effective alternative remedy” available under the PSA, the district magistrate said, “The detenue has chosen not to file a representation before the advisory board”.
Grounds of detention were supplied to Abdullah to enable him to make an effective representation as stipulated in law, it said, adding that the advisory board had on February 24 observed that there was sufficient cause for his detention.
It said the detention order is “not vague or without any material facts” and such order based on subjective satisfaction of detaining authority cannot be a matter of judicial review.
Pilot approached the apex court claiming that the detention order was “manifestly illegal” and there was no question of Omar being a “threat to the maintenance of public order”.

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