Issuance of LOC was mala fide exercise of power, Shah Faesal tells Delhi HC

Shah Faesal, detained in Srinagar, told the Delhi HC Tuesday that the Look Out Circular issued against him was prima facie a mala fide exercise of power and no reasonable ground was made out for it

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media


Bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, detained in Srinagar, told the Delhi High Court Tuesday that the Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against him was prima facie a mala fide exercise of power and no reasonable ground was made out for it.

The submissions filed on behalf of Faesal said a copy of the LOC was not provided to him and no details of the contents have been given in the Jammu and Kashmir government's reply which submitted in response to his habeas corpus petition.

A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangeeta Dhingra Sehgal listed the matter for further hearing on September 12 as the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was not available for advancing arguments in the matter.

Opposing the state government's preliminary objection on the maintainability of the petition that the Delhi High Court does not have the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the plea, Faesal said in the rejoinder that he was detained at the New Delhi Airport and was forcibly taken to Srinagar, so this court's jurisdiction is clearly made out.

"It must be stated that the issuance of an LOC against the petitioner (Faesal) is a highly suspect exercise for which no reasonable ground is made out ... The issuance of the present LOC is therefore prima facie a completely malafide exercise of power," he stated in the rejoinder.

The submissions stated that when Faesal was illegally offloaded and detained at the Delhi airport, he was not informed of any ground on which such action has been taken against him.

"It is, therefore, clear that at the time of his illegal detention at Delhi airport, there were no legal grounds for stopping him from travelling to Harvard University," it said.

He termed as untrue, the version of the Jammu and Kashmir administration's claim that on arrival at Srinagar airport, Faesal started addressing people present there.

Faesal was detained on August 14, a day before the Independence Day, and there was exceptionally heavy security in every part of Srinagar, especially at the airport and it is truly inconceivable that there could have been any large gathering of people which was even allowed to stand for a minute in the arrival terminal if at all there was any security risk, the rejoinder said.

Regarding Faesal's claim that he was going to the US for studies when he was detained, the state government has said that he had obtained a tourist visa and not a student visa. The B1/B2 visa affixed on his passport not being a student visa does not entitle him to study in the US, it had said.

However, Faesal said personal liberty and the right to travel abroad are guaranteed to the citizens of India under the Constitution and any visa-related issues are within the purview only of the government of the foreign country to which travel is sought.

Besides the habeas corpus petition, Faesal has also filed an application seeking a copy of the LOC issued against him.

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.

His counsel had 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.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had earlier claimed in its affidavit that Faesal "instigated" people gathered at 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 administration, 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 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 administration 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 administration had said it is inconceivable that he would leave the country at this juncture to pursue an academic course in the US.

The administration 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.

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