Expeditiously decide plea on detention: SC asks J&K HC

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The Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday to "expeditiously" pass the order on a petition seeking directions to the authorities to produce before it some persons, including an NRI businessman, detained following the abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

The apex court, which was hearing a plea filed by the wife of a Malaysia-based NRI businessman against the detention of her husband, said this after it was informed that the high court has reserved its order on the plea pending before it.

"Having regard to the fact that the matter involves personal liberty of an individual, we request the said high court to pass appropriate order on the habeas corpus petition expeditiously and in accordance with the law," a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.

The bench, also comprising Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice B R Gavai, deferred the matter pending before it to await the order of the high court.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Asifa Mubeen, the wife of Mubeen Ahmad Shah, seeking quashing of the authorities' August 7 order of detention along with the grounds of detention under section 8(1)(a) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.

At the outset, the bench said according to the affidavit filed by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, the brother-in-law of the petitioner was present during the hearing of the plea pending before the high court.

Senior lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the Asifa Mubeen, told the court that petitioner before the high court was not authorised by them to file a plea there.

He said a US-based attorney had filed the petition before the high court seeking direction to the authorities to produce before the court some persons, including Mubeen Ahmad Shah, who was under detention.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, told the court that there is a valid order of detention and the petitioner should challenge it before the high court.

"We will wait for the high court's order," the bench said.

When Sankaranarayanan said that they want to argue the matter before the top court, the bench said, "We do not understand this. You want a relief that this man should be freed. If the high court decides this, why you do not want it?".

It also asked the senior lawyer as to whether they had brought it to the notice of the high court that the US-based attorney had not taken their consent before filing the plea.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the high court should deliver the order and if aggrieved, the petitioner can approach the top court in appeal.

"As prayed, liberty is granted to the senior counsel appearing for the petitioner to mention this matter for listing if he is aggrieved with the order passed by the high court," the bench noted in its order.

The apex court on October 16 asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration as to why it has not filed a reply on the plea. The petitioner has said that her husband is currently lodged at Agra Central jail and has been "wrongfully deprived" of his liberty.

"The detenu (Shah), a senior and well respected citizen of India, a qualified doctor and leading NRI businessman based in Malaysia, with a serious medical illness, has been illegally deprived of his life and liberty for more than 40 days since August 5, 2019," the plea has said.

The petitioner has said that Shah had come to Srinagar on April 18 to attend the last rites of his sister-in-law and continued to stay there since his father-in-law was unwell and passed away in July.

The plea said since Shah was not keeping well during that period, he was admitted to a hospital in Srinagar in May.

"In the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, the detenu (Shah) was arrested illegally without any warrant from his residence at Buchwara, Dalgate, Srinagar and taken to the local police station. At the time of the arrest, the detenu was not even informed about reasons and grounds of his arrest," it has said.

The plea has said that Shah is suffering from multiple ailments, including acute renal problem which has aggravated during the course of lodgement at Agra jail.

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