New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Tuesday quashed the detention of senior National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar under the Public Safety Act.
Asserting that the grounds for his detention were “fragile”, Justice Sindhu Sharma observed that Sagar’s activities “are the normal activities of a politician” in a democracy.
Sagar was arrested on 6 August last year under the Code of Criminal Procedure, with authorities saying they had apprehensions that he would oppose the scrapping of Article 370 by the Narendra Modi government the previous day.
Another order of detention was passed against him under the Public Safety Act on 5 February, highlighting his opposition to the abrogation of Article 370. This order spoke of meetings between him and his party workers allegedly calling for a “mass agitation”.
“Whereas, you have been very vocal against abolishing Article 370 and 35(A) of Constitution of India and also against bifurcation of erstwhile J&K state. You have posted many provoking and instigating comments/ideas on social networking sites, so as to instigate common people against the decision of Union of India,” the 5 February order said.
Sagar had challenged this order, submitting that he was already in custody when the order was passed. He had also questioned the basis of the order, saying the authorities had not given any “compelling and cogent reasons” for passing the order.
Sagar had asserted that the authorities had not applied their minds in passing the order, and that the grounds mentioned were “vague, irrelevant and non-existent, which do not disclose any activity prejudice to maintenance of public order or any imminent threat to public order”.
His lawyer, Shuja-ul-Haq, submitted that it is the role of the opposition to criticise the government’s policies, and assured that Sagar was never involved in any activity that was against the maintenance of law and public order.
Accepting this submission, the J&K High Court noted there was nothing to show that the detaining authority was aware of Sagar already being in custody when the order was passed.
If a person is already in custody and a detention order is passed against them, the detaining authority “must show that there are compelling reasons for detention, in the absence of which, his detention would be illegal”, the court said.
Saying this, it quashed the detention order and asked for Sagar to be released.