A Habeas Corpus writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by the wife of Jammu and Kashmir Indian National Congress Party leader Prof. Saifuddin Soz, challenging his "unlawful" detention by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978. This petition was filed on May 29, 2020.
The detenu, Prof. Saifuddin Soz, is an octogenarian and a former Member of Parliament, who represented the Baramulla Constituency in the year 1983-91 and again on 1998-99 in Lok Sabha. He has also been a member of Rajya Sabha on three instances, 1996-96, 2002-08, and 2009-15. He has also served as the Union Minister for Environment and Forests from 1997-99, and as the Union Minister for Water Resources from 2006-2009. He has also been the President of the Jammu & Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee. Prof. Soz has been detained and put under house arrest since August of 2019 and the reasons for detention and arrest have never been informed to date, claimed the petitioner. To this, the petitioner claimed that the impugned detention order(s) passed by the respondent States was prima facie illegal, and done in an arbitrary exercise of power.
The petitioner further claimed that if the detention order(s) had been passed under section 8 of the Public Safety Act, then also the conduct of the State was wholly contrary to section 13 of the Act, which provides that the grounds of order of detention is to be disclosed to the persons affected by the order, i.e. the detenu, as soon as may be, but ordinarily not later than five days and in exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded in writing, not later than ten days from the date of detention. In the instant case, it had been ten months since the detenu had been placed under house arrest, and despite approaching high-ranking officials of the State, the grounds of the house arrest had still not been informed to him. The petitioner further claimed that in addition to the above, the detenu was never served with the material that formed the alleged basis of the grounds of the impugned detention order(s) was passed and the non-supply of the same had impaired their right of effective representation and vitiated the impugned detention on the anvil of Articles 14
of the Constitution of India
, rendering it liable to be quashed. Relying on Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India which provides that when any person is detained in pursuance of an order made under any law providing for preventive detention, the authority making the order shall, as soon as may be, communicate to such person the grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest possible opportunity of making a representation against the order, the petitioner claimed that no such grounds were till date revealed to them. Relying on the past record of Prof. Soz as former Union Minister, Academic, and Writer, the petitioner claimed that the detenu had not indulged in any activity that may be given the color of an offense under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 and for this reason, the order(s) of detention was mala fide and liable to be quashed. the petition at the end submitted that the Apex Court has held that personal liberty protected under Article 21 is so sacrosanct and high in the scale of constitutional values, that it was the obligation of the detaining authority to show that the impugned detention meticulously accords with the procedure established by law. [READ PETITION]