New Delhi: The central government Wednesday accepted the Supreme Court’s suggestion to release Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom before his one-year detention period expires on 6 August, if he agrees not to leave Delhi or issue any statement on Kashmir until 7 August.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made this submission before a bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, which had proposed a “workable solution” Monday.
The bench appreciated the efforts of Mehta and the government’s positive response to its suggestion, remarking: “This would facilitate him (Qayoom) celebrate Eid with his family.”
The case against Qayoom
The Supreme Court was hearing Qayoom’s appeal against the J&K High Court’s May order that refused to quash his detention and advised him to make a representation to the government, assuring that he has shunned his “secessionist ideology”.
Qayoom was detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on the night of 4 August last year, ahead of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to scrap the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution. However, before the top court, Qayoom asserted his right to maintain a political ideology and refused to accept the high court order.
Mehta had informed the bench Monday that the government would not extend Qayoom’s detention beyond 6 August. But, the court verbally opined that Qayoom’s detention would automatically end as the law did not empower the government to extend it.
“According to me, his detention cannot be extended. Prima facie, there is no power. But, if the government has been considerate to say we are not extending, then its apprehension can be served if he undertakes to stay in Delhi,” Justice Kaul had noted, following which the suggestion to release Qayoom was made.
In its Wednesday order, the apex court bench also hoped Qayoom would adopt “a more constructive approach in future”, and said he must adhere to the promise he made to the court and not issue any statement until 7 August.
The court also hoped the government would consider bringing “complete normalcy” to Kashmir.
“We must say that Kashmir has been a troubled area. Nature has been kind to the place. It is time for all roads to be built to the future,” the judges recorded in the order.
Justice Kaul’s Kashmir recollections
The brief hearing witnessed Justice Kaul reminiscing about the moments he spent in Kashmir.
“I have a fair idea about that place. So many things happened there in the past, which should not have happened,” he told the counsel in the video conference hearing. “Hope people look towards the future and stop wandering in the past.”
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Qayoom, concurred with Justice Kaul’s statement. “We all hope that people move forward to make the region more peaceful and prosperous,” he said.
At the end of the hearing, Justice Kaul remarked in a lighter vein: “We are thankful to the lawyers who exercised restraint during the hearing.”
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