The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the response of the Centre on a plea of bureaucrat-turned politician Shah Faesal, who is currently detained in Srinagar, to give him a copy of the look out circular issued against him.
A bench of justices Manmohan and Sangeeta Dhingra Sehgal asked the Central government to file its response on or before September 2 and listed it for hearing on September 3 along with a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Faesal, challenging his detention.
Advocate Warisa Sarasat, representing Faesal, said they do not know the grounds on which the look out circular (LOC) was issued.
The counsel said LOC can only prevent him from travelling but it cannot justify his arrest and detention and there is “malafide” on the part of the central government.
The former IAS officer claimed in his petition that he was on his way to Harvard University in the US for higher studies when he was illegally detained at the Delhi airport under the Public Safety Act (PSA). He was taken to Srinagar.
The counsel contended that the LOC does not permit authorities to arrest Faesal and take him back to Srinagar even when he kept on insisting that he does not wish to go there as his wife and child were in Delhi itself. “I have never heard of implementation of LOC in this way, this is remarkable,” she said.
The counsel termed as “absurd” the Jammu and Kashmir government’s claim that on arrival at Srinagar airport, Faesal started addressing people present there.
“Who will be there on August 14? The airport was empty that day because of Independence Day and the lock down. Even the departure and arrival terminal are different and far away. Who he was trying to provoke because only CRPF officials were there. Is challenging presidential order on Article 370 of the Constitution in the Supreme Court a crime? There is no case against him,” the counsel contended.
Central government standing counsel Vikas Mahajan sought time to respond to Faesal’s plea seeking a copy of the LOC. The Jammu and Kashmir government had on Tuesday told the high court that Faesal “instigated” people gathered at the Srinagar airport against the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
Faesal had no student visa, though he claimed that he was going to the US for studies, the state government, through DIG, CKR, Srinagar, had said in an affidavit.
The affidavit was filed in response to the former IAS officer’s habeas corpus petition in which he alleged that he was illegally detained at the Delhi airport on August 14 and taken back to Srinagar, where he has been kept under house arrest.
Faesal’s liberty is curtailed in accordance with statutory provisions and under an order passed by an executive magistrate in Budgam when he had refused to furnish a bond to keep peace, the state government had said, asserting that he was not in unauthorised custody.
The affidavit had stated that Faesal was apprehended on the spot on verbal orders of the executive magistrate who took action and asked him to furnish a bond of Rs 50,000 for keeping peace. He, however, refused to furnish the bond after which an order was passed by the magistrate, detaining the petitioner.
The state government had said it is inconceivable that he would leave the country at this juncture to pursue an academic course in the US. It had said Faesal has obtained a tourist visa and not a student visa, and the B1/B2 visa affixed on his passport not being a student visa does not entitle him to study in the US.
The state government had said the order of the executive magistrate to detain Faesal was not challenged by anyone. It had said the petition mentioned that his wife met him at the detention centre. However, it is deliberately suppressed that he is housed in Hotel Centaur which is a posh hotel in Srinagar and she met him at the hotel.
In the aftermath of the Centre removing Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, Faesal had said the state was experiencing an “unprecedented” lockdown.