SC refuses early hearing on J&K Cong leader’s plea to quash detention
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea filed by octogenarian Congress leader Saifuddin Soz’s wife challenging his house arrest since August 5 last year. The court, however, refused to grant an early hearing, posting the matter in July.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Soz, sought a shorter date and urged a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee to hear the matter next week. But in a setback to Soz, Justice Mishra posted the matter for hearing in the second week of July. Citing Omar Abdullah’s case, Singhvi argued that in similar matters earlier, notice was issued and shorter dates have led to the release of the people. Singhvi contended that the house arrest was made without a single document. But, Justice Mishra refused to budge.
Soz’s wife, Mumtazunnisa Soz, in the plea said ten months have passed since his first detention, and he is yet to be informed of the grounds of his detention. Soz’s wife said her husband has always advocated for the Union of India and consistently upheld the constitutional principles, respect for the nation and vehemently opposed the separatist or anti-India voices in Jammu and Kashmir.
Soz’s wife in the petition, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, said her husband’s detention was wholly contrary and perverse to the constitutional safeguards laid down under Article 21 and 22 of the Constitution, as well as the law on preventive detention.
She insisted that her husband has consistently demonstrated an unwavering loyalty to the Constitution even in the face of the separatist threats, and therefore cannot be considered by any stretch of imagination to be a threat to the public safety. “Not only does it attract the vice of unconstitutionality, it is also in stark contravention of the statutory scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”), under which the detention has purportedly been made”, argued the plea, urging the top court to quash Soz’s detention.
The petitioner urged the top court to issue a writ in the nature of habeas corpus or any other appropriate direction to the Centre to produce Prof. Saifuddin Soz, before the court. The petitioner argued that her husband has not committed any breach of peace, neither has he disturbed the public tranquility, nor likely to do any wrongful act that may lead to breach of peace or cause any disturbance of public tranquility. “However, Prof. Soz has been detained and put under house arrest since August of 2019 and the reasons for detention and arrest have never been informed till date, thereby making his detention not only illegal, malafide and unconstitutional, but also extremely appalling”, argued Soz’s wife.
Detailing the reason to move before the apex court, Soz’s wife said the ground for the arrest has not been furnished even till date, and he has been kept under detention for an indefinite period. “For someone who has been following constitutional methods for his entire long and storied career cannot at this advanced stage, even be suspected of having any intention whatsoever to do anything against Constitutional values”, said the petition.