“He is 73 and these are COVID-19 times": SC asks J&K govt if Mian Qayoom's detention is required

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Jammu and Kashmir government if the prolonged detention of Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Srinagar President Mian Abdul Qayoom was required in view of COVID-19 outbreak, a media report said today.

A Bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra remarked this while hearing a petition challenging the decision of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court to uphold Qayoom’s preventive detention. The Court had earlier sought the J&K government’s response on the same, reported Bar and Bench.

The report said that the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought a period of ten more days from the Court in order to file the response.

Earlier, senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, who represented Qayoom, questioned if such delays were reasonable in a matter involving the writ of Habeas Corpus.

Arguing the case, Dave said Qayoom is 73-years-old and has been in prison for about a year now.

He said the period of his detention will expire on August 7.

Despite his old age and vulnerability to the COVID-19, Qayoom continues to be incarcerated and lodged in prison at a time when the pandemic is spreading fast, Dave submitted, according to the report.

To this, Justice Kaul remarked that Qayoom has been in prison for long enough and “his ideology remains the same”. “These are COVID-19 times and he (Qayoom) is 73 with his period of detention is about to expire. So please look into this, Solicitor.”

The matter will be heard next on July 23, the Court said.

On May 29, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court set aside Qayoom’s habeas corpus plea and upheld his detention under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA).

Qayoom was detained in August last year, ahead of the Centre’s move to abrogate teh special status of Jammu and Kashmir.