The wife of former Union minister and senior Jammu and Kashmir Congress leader Saifuddin Soz moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking he be produced before the court as also the quashing of the order by which he has been under house arrest since August 5 last year.
Mumtazunnisa Soz, wife of the octogenarian leader, alleged that till date the reasons for the detention have not been supplied to them and they are unable to challenge the arrest under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.
This makes “his detention not only illegal, mala fide and unconstitutional, but also extremely appalling”, she said.
“The detention of Prof. Saifuddin Soz is wholly contrary and perverse to the constitutional safeguards laid down under Articles 21 (right to life) and 22 (right to know the reasons of arrest), as well as the law on preventive detention.
“Not only does it attract the vice of unconstitutionality, it is also in contravention of the statutory scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, under which the detention has purportedly been made,” said the petition settled by senior advocate A M Singhvi.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre had abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Presidential Order proposed that the state be bifurcated as Union Territory of Ladakh (centrally administered) and as Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir (with its Legislative Assembly). Prior to this announcement, several leaders…were placed under house arrest with internet and phone services curtailed,” said the plea filed through lawyer Sunil Fernandes.
Seeking forthwith release of Soz, the plea said, “Ten months have passed since his first detention, and he is yet to be informed of his grounds of detention. All efforts by him to obtain a copy of the detention order(s) have been of no avail due to the illegal, arbitrary exercise of powers by the Respondent No. 2 (UT of J-K).”
The authority has also refused to supply a copy of the detention order, despite repeated requests by the detenu, failing which the detenu has been put under detention for a prolonged period with no recourse under law, the plea said.
It said Soz has been a “law-abiding, peaceful Indian citizen” who never committed any breach of peace and represented the Baramulla Constituency in Parliament.
“Furthermore, the detenu has always advocated for the Union of India and consistently upheld the Constitutional principles, respect for the nation and vehemently opposed and separatist or anti-India voices in J&K (despite his daughter being kidnapped by such forces),” it said.
“He has consistently demonstrated an unwavering loyalty to the Indian Constitution even in the face of separatist threats. He therefore cannot be considered by any stretch of imagination to be a threat to public safety,” the plea said.
Soz has been re-elected numerous times for the Lok Sabha and also served as Union Minister besides being the President of the Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee for quite some time, it said, adding that he was never threat to the peace.
Various political leaders including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were arrested and put under house detention in August last year following the abrogation of Article 370.