The Public Safety Act (PSA) under which the 81-year old former chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir has been arrested was meant for timber smugglers and terrorists. But the Government, which had in Parliament denied that the former CM was under detention, had claimed on August 6 that he was missing the session of Parliament on his own.
The Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said then in Parliament that he could not possibly force Mr Abdullah to attend Parliament on gun-point.
Even earlier, on August 1, when the former chief minister called on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to voice his apprehension on the abrupt withdrawal of the Amarnath Yatra and the tourists being ordered out of the state, the PM had claimed that nothing was amiss and that elections would be held in the state soon!
The news that the former chief minister has been arrested under PSA, under which he can be detained without trial for up to two years, shocked both political and legal circles.
Even commentators like Shekhar Gupta, former editor-in-chief of Indian Express and currently the Editor-in-Chief and chairman of theprint.in tweeted, “Farooq Abdullah, 83, with transplanted kidneys, detained under PSA...can be held without trial for 2 yrs... How mindless can it get... And you know what: in 1994, he was in Rao Govt’s all-star team under Vajpayee, fighting and winning India’s case at UNHRC in Geneva”.
There was also shock at the Supreme Court casually deferring a Habeas Corpus petition challenging the detention of Farooq Abdullah to September 30. Normally the Supreme Court would react with alacrity over such petitions because of concerns over the individual’s liberty and fundamental rights.
“September 30? In a habeas corpus petition? Every day the Supreme Court loses its moral and constitutional authority,” tweeted Samar Harlankar.
Habeas Corpus literally means ‘Bring the Body’ and the apex court has entertained such petitions in the past and ordered the Government to produce the person in court.
But the Government, which had kept the former CM under detention for the past six weeks, appears to have slapped the PSA so that it can justify the detention without any warrant or any apparent cause.
Lawyer -activist Prashant Bhushan also tweeted his disappointment:
Kashmir has been under lockdown for last 43 days, with no internet, no mobiles, no public transport, with severe restrictions on travel, causing severe violations of Rights. Yet SC mandated to protect Rights doesn't see urgency and seeks no response. Truly, SC has never been so weak
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Government restricted entry of journalists to the Media Facilitation Centre set up in a private hotel in Srinagar, allegedly because of reports of ‘misuse’.