'Detention Can't Be Forever': SC Asks J&K Admin to Reply to Plea by Mehbooba Mufti's Daughter

This is the second time the apex court has sought a reply from J&K on the former chief minister's detention.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond to Iltija Mufti’s amended plea challenging the detention of her mother and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti under the J&K Public Safety Act, saying that a detention cannot be forever and “some via media” should be explored.

People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba has been jailed since before the Centre read down Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. In her latest plea, Iltija had challenged both the PSA order that was used to prolong Mehbooba’s incarceration and the subsequent extensions ordered by administration.

A bench of Justices S.K. Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy said Mehbooba should place a request to the authorities for attending party meetings.

Also read: Mehbooba Mufti’s Daughter Files Petition in SC Challenging Ex-CM’s ‘Illegal Detention’

The apex court permitted Iltija and her uncle to meet Mehbooba in detention.

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.

The first petition challenging her detention, filed by Iltija, has been pending in the Supreme Court since February 26. The apex court, alleged Iltija in her 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 makes Tuesday’s demand for a reply the second from the Supreme Court to the J&K administration.

Iltija responded to the news of the Supreme Court’s direction with a tweet through her mother’s official account, saying that she was not surprised that the habeas petition pleading for her release had dragged on.

Iltija also referred to the Gupkar Declaration, to which her mother’s party, PDP, is a signatory. The PDP, with five parties – National Conference, Congress, Peoples Conference, CPI(M) and Awami National Conference – have jointly resolved to carry forward the declaration, signed by them on August 4 last year, to jointly oppose any move to scrap J&K’s special status.

She also cited the example of Leh and highlighted the apparent effectiveness of its citizens mobilising themselves without depending on courts.

(With PTI inputs)