Updated: March 17, 2020 7:41:40 am
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s sister Sara Abdullah Pilot on Monday questioned the Union Territory administration’s contention that public order in the region should be examined “contextually” keeping in mind its geographical proximity to the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.
She said that by that logic, the same should also apply to public order in the states of Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan, with whom too “Pakistan is in close geographical proximity to”.
She stated in a rejoinder affidavit: “It is appalling to observe the statement of the Respondent no 2 (Srinagar District Magistrate) that the geographical proximity of the UT of J&K with the Republic of Pakistan is deemed to be an overarching feature that can contextually modify the concept of ‘public order’. Needless to add that Pakistan is in close geographical proximity to three other states of India (Gujarat, Punjab & Rajasthan) as well and by the extended logic of the Respondent no 2, ‘public order’ in such states would also be contextually modified…”
The rejoinder pointed out that some of the material supplied along with the affidavit filed by J&K in response to her petition challenging Omar’s detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) had not been provided to him earlier.
The affidavit, she contended, referred to some Facebook posts “that after having been attributed to the detenu and being made part of the relied upon material, have been used against the detenu”.
However, “on scrutiny of the verified Facebook account of the detenu, the deponent was shocked to discover that the said social media posts…that have been purportedly attributed to the detenu and have been maliciously used against him were not even made by the detenu through his verified Facebook account”.
Sara’s rejoinder stated that “scrutiny of the URL as provided in the list of posts as attributed to the detenu…it is found that the said URL is non-existent and that no page is hosted on the said URL”.
This showed dereliction of duty on the part of the police and and district magistrate and non-application of mind by the latter, thereby vitiating the detention order of February 5 and renders the same legally unsustainable and utterly unconstitutional, she contended.
Sara Abdullah said that even otherwise, the material that has formed the basis for the detention order “does not even remotely lead credence to the apprehension that the detenu was likely to indulge in activities that are prejudicial to maintenance of public order”. On the other hand, “the corpus of tweets as made by the detenu that have been surprisingly used against the detenu bear testimony to the conscientious and concerted effort of the detenu being a prominent public figure to implore the citizenry to ‘stay calm’ and ‘not to take law into your own hands’ and that ‘violence will only play in the hands of those who do not have best interests of the state in mind”, she added.
The J&K administration had contended that the petitioner had not given any explanation as to why she had not approached the High Court. On this, the rejoinder said the SC had in several judgments said that the right to approach it under Article 32 of the Constitution was a “guaranteed fundamental right that cannot be denuded by a mere availability of a remedy at High Court under Article 226…”.
On the contention that he had opposed abrogation of special status under Article 370, she said this “falls squarely within the realm of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed to every citizen of this country”, and that “the said right assumes greater significance when the right pertains to a person who being a former Chief Minister and former Leader of Opposition (State Assembly) is expected, by the rigors of the Constitution itself, to question and assail any decision of the dispensation in power.”
The rejoinder said no material exists which would enable the DM to conclude that Omar’s activities would prejudice public order.
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