Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju has lashed out at the Centre over the detention of former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and other leaders, terming it as “gross violation” of their rights.
The father-son duo and the PDP chief were detained in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year and have been booked under the stringent Public Safety Act.
In an article published by The Wire, Katju criticised the allegations against Omar, which he said were “totally frivolous” and “hardly a valid ground for detaining him”. The former judge also quoted the government dossier served against Omar, which alleged the former chief minister could “influence people” even during “peak militancy and poll boycotts”.
Asserting that criticising the government is a democratic right protected under Article 19(1)(a). Katju said, “There is no allegation that Omar Abdullah ever gave a call for violence or organised violence. In fact, his entire political record shows that he has always abided by India’s Constitution.”
To support his statement, he also quoted a series of observations of the Supreme Court of India and those of the US which has been followed in India.
In the article, Katju quoted the Ghani vs Jones (1970) case of the UK, where Judge Lord Denning had observed, “A man’s liberty of movement is regarded so highly by the laws of England that it is not to be hindered or prevented except on the surest grounds.” Katju said this statement has been quoted by the Supreme Court of India in two cases. “Hence it is the law of the land in India too,” he said.
That said, Katju demanded the release of the three former chief ministers, besides other Kashmiri leaders, including Shah Faesal and Yasin Malik, by the Supreme Court “if it wishes to enjoy the confidence of the people as a guardian and protector of their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution”.