Iltija Mufti has again approached the Supreme Court against the detention of her mother and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti under Public Safety Act (PSA) as the Peoples Democratic Party leader continues to be in jail since August 5 last year, when the Centre revoked the special status of J&K.
Iltija Mufti filed a habeas corpus petition in the apex court last week challenging her mother’s detention under PSA since February 5 and the two subsequent extensions. Habeas corpus is a writ seeking production of a person, who has allegedly been in illegal detention, before a court.
Mehbooba Mufti was booked under PSA on February 5 after her preventive detention of six months had expired. Under PSA, a person can be put behind bars without trial from three months to two years.
Iltija said that her mother’s detention is illegal and questionable in a democracy. “A key opposition leader has been jailed for over a year without recourse to trial,” she said.
The former CM is currently lodged in her Gupkar home, which has been turned into a sub-jail, where she was shifted on April 27.
Iltija has challenged the detention on several grounds, including that the dossier based on which grounds of detention have been framed are “ stale, vague and that they suffer from non-application of mind, malice in law and that they violate the provisions of sections 8(3)(b) of the PSA”.
Iltija had filed the petition in February and the case was scheduled to be listed for March 18 when countrywide lockdown was announced to contain the Covid-19.
She said she was bringing to the top court’s notice that despite its order in February, the J&K administration is yet to even file a reply. “And it shows you the respect they have for courts and SC,” she said.
The applicant has prayed before the court to command the respondents i.e respective representatives of government of India and the union territory to produce Mehbooba Mufti before the court to set her free.
She has also urged for quashing of her detention orders and award compensation for her illegal detention.
Iltija has argued that the detention of her mother was extended on February 5 as she declined to sign a bond asking her not to make any statement on the recent events in J&K.
“This bond and surety which she was repeatedly asked to sign,… included the promise that: ‘In case of release from detention, I will not make any comment(s) or issue statement(s) or make public speech(s) hold or participate in public assemblies related to the recent events in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, at the present time, since it has the potential of endangering the peace and tranquility and law and order in the State or any part thereof’,” the petition says.
“Thus, the admitted basis of the detention is a blanket undertaking not to make any comment on the recent events in the State,” it says.
The petition says that the detenu has not been allowed any visits by her close relatives, barring a solitary visit by her brother and her sister’s husband on August 19 after multiple requests.
“Furthermore, the detenu has not been accorded a chance to attend to her duties as the president of her party, the Jammu and Kashmir’s Peoples Democratic Party. Even party officials and cadres who had applied to visit her on several occasions have not been granted permission by the respondent administration,” it says.
Nearly all of Kashmir’s mainstream political leaders were detained in August 2019, hours before the central government nullified Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded special status to the region, and bifurcated the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature and Ladakh without one.
Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, the two former chief ministers, were released on March 13 and March 24, respectively.