New Delhi: Iltija Mufti, the daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, has filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court, challenging her mother’s detention under the Public Safety Act.
People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba has been jailed since before the Centre read down Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.
In the petition, filed through advocate Akaarsh Kamra, Iltija has challenged both the PSA order that was used to prolong Mehbooba’s incarceration and the subsequent extensions ordered by administration.
Initially taken into ‘preventive custody’ along with hundreds of politically active people just hours before the Article 370 announcement, Mehbooba was booked under the stringent PSA just just before her six-month custody period was ending.
On July 31, J&K administration extended Mehbooba’s detention under PSA by three months.
“Her detention is illegal and unquestionable in a democracy. A key opposition leader has been jailed for over a year without recourse to trial,” said Iltija.
The first petition challenging her detention, filed by Iltija, has been pending in the Supreme Court since February 26. The apex court, alleges Iltija in the latest petition, had asked J&K administration to file a reply. “Till date the Respondents [J&K administration] have not filed any reply or counter-affidavit to the captioned Writ Petition,” the petition says.
This, Iltija told The Wire, “…shows you the respect they have for courts and SC.”
The writ petition was scheduled to be listed on March 18, but by then measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 had come into place.
Iltija’s petition has held that the successive detention orders have been based on “stale grounds and have become staler” considering the administration’s malice in ensuring Mehbooba remains detained.
The petition has asked for her immediate release, the quashing of all detention orders against Mehbooba and appropriate compensation for her prolonged incarceration. Mehbooba is currently at her official residence at Fairview Bungalow, which has been declared a subsidiary jail.
“She has been deliberately kept out of bounds for party people and attend to her duties as JKPDP president,” said Iltija.
Mehbooba is the last of the mainstream J&K political bigwigs to remain in jail.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) chairman Sajad Gani Lone, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah have been released. Congress leader Saifuddin Soz, who had scaled the boundary wall of his Srinagar house to “prove” that he was not a free man a day after the government said in the Supreme Court that he was never detained, has also been ‘released‘