Saifuddin Soz was neither detained nor under house arrest: J&K admin tells SC

The Jammu and Kashmir administration submitted before the Supreme Court on Wednesday that senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz was neither detained nor put under house arrest after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, while hearing the habeas corpus plea of Soz’s wife Mumtazunnisa seeking her husband’s release, closed the matter saying in view of the affidavit filed by Jammu and Kashmir administration there is nothing left to examine further.

“We will not enter into it any further… We are disposing of the matter taking into account Jammu and Kashmir administration’s affidavit,” Justice Mishra said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the petitioner, contended that Soz was kept in illegal house detention and now they say there was no detention.

In the affidavit, the Home department of Jammu and Kashmir denied the contentions of Soz’s wife and said that the former union minister was never under any kind of restraint and that he was always free to move.

Soz’s wife had approached the top court seeking the release of her husband who had allegedly been under house arrest since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

The petition had stated that Soz was informed of his house arrest by the security guards of his house situated at Shehjar, Srinagar in the morning of August 5, 2019, when the Union of India passed a Presidential Order revoking the status of the (erstwhile) State of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India.

Seeking quashing of the detention, the plea had said that 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 Jammu and Kashmir government. His detention is wholly contrary and perverse to the constitutional safeguards laid down under Article 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India, as well as the law on preventive detention. The detention is also in stark contravention of the statutory scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, under which the detention has purportedly been made,” the plea said.

Soz is an octogenarian and a former Member of Parliament and it is needless to state that he is a law-abiding, peaceful Indian citizen, the petition stated, adding that he has not committed any breach of peace, neither has he disturbed the public tranquility, nor is he likely to do any wrongful act that will occasion a breach of peace or cause any disturbance of public tranquility.

“However, Prof Soz has been detained and put under house arrest since August of 2019 and the reasons for detention and arrest have never been informed till date, thereby making his detention not only illegal, malafide and unconstitutional but also extremely appalling,” it added.

The plea claimed that the authority making the orders of detention did not communicate to Soz the ground in which the orders have been made and no copy of the detention order was provided despite repeated attempt.

It said that Soz was denied the right to make a representation against the orders of detention in flagrant abuse of constitutional guidelines as well as the statutory scheme.

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