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Innocent Admission

Centre cites ‘links’ of Omar Abdullah to activities prejudicial to public order

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New Delhi, March 2, 2020-

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court the reason for detention in the dossier on Omar Abdullah indicates existence of “live and proximate link” in the events that occurred in the past, and that there is a strong possibility of activities of Abdullah causing prejudice to the maintenance of public order, especially due to the geographical proximity with Pakistan.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration, which is a Union Territory, in its response said former chief minister Omar Abdullah has been a vocal critic of Article 370 even before its abrogation before August 5.

“It is submitted that considering very peculiar geopolitical position of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and its 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 Centre also emphasized that Abdullah “squarely fell within the realm of public order, as it was calculated to disturb public peace and tranquillity. It is needless to emphasise that the incitement of public at large, pertains to public order.”

After a brief hearing on the matter, the Supreme Court said: “Matter pertaining to liberty can be entertained”, and agreed to hear a plea by Sara Abdullah Pilot, challenging 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 administration also cited 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 the 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 — a plea filed by 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 and Kashmir administration, contended before the court that his reply is ready and that he has shared a copy of it with the petitioner.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Pilot, said the reply was handed over before the beginning of the hearing, but then there is no issue with it.

Abdullah has been detained under Public Safety Act since February 5.  (Agency)

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