The Central Government informed the Supreme Court that the detention order of Senior Advocate and President of J&K High Court Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom will not be extended beyond the date of its expiry, i.e. 6th August, 2020.
The submission was made in the plea filed on behalf of Qayoom, challenging the 28th May, 2020, Order of the J&K High Court which had dismissed his habeas corpus petition and upheld his detention under the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978.
A 3-Judge Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul heard the matter and directed Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to seek instructions on whether the Government was willing to release the Petitioner immediately on conditional bail till 6th August, 2020, post which the detention order would expire. Accordingly, the plea has been adjourned to July 29th.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave and Advocate Vrinda Grover, along with Advocate Soutik Banerjee, appeared on behalf of the Petitioner.
Today, the SG submitted to the Court that Petitioner's detention under the PSA would not be extended beyond 6th August, when it is due to expire.
In response to this, Dave and Grover argued that the Petitioner should be released immediately as every single day of his continued detention was an unconstitutional curtailment of his fundamental rights under Article 21.
Dave further submitted to the Court that the Government did not possess the power to extend the detention period, and that the Petitioner's release was squarely covered by multiple judgments of the Apex Court itself. Therefore, an immediate release on bail was sought on behalf of the Petitioner till the end of his detention period.
Accordingly, the Bench has directed the SG to seek instructions on whether the Government is willing to release the Petitioner immediately on conditional bail till 6th August, 2020, after which the detention order no longer survives.
On the previous date of hearing, the Supreme Court had adjourned the plea and had allowed the SG's submission that the matter was under consideration and that a reply would soon be provided by the concerned authority.
The petition, filed by Advocate-on-Record Aakarsh Kamra on behalf of Qayoom, states that the Petitioner is "Senior Advocate with more than 40 years' standing at the Bar, havingserved as President of the J&K High Court Bar Association for many terms, including from 2014 till the present".
It further contends that the Respondents had detained Qayoom on the intervening night of 4th and 5th August, 2019, under the provisions of Sections 107 read with 151 of the Jammu and Kashmir Code of Criminal Procedure. His detention had then been prolonged by invoking provisions of the J&K PSA, 1978.
"Thereafter, an order of detention under the Public Safety Act was passed against the detenu on 07.08.2019, and on 08.08.2019, the Petitioner was taken to Central Jail, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, without any prior notice of intimation, where he was kept in solitary confinement."
The order of the Respondents had been challenged by Qayoom before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which had been dismissed on 07.02.2020. Subsequently, an appeal filed before the HC was also dismissed on 28.05.2020.
The instant Special Leave Petition before the Apex Court states that "the impugned common judgement and order dated 28.05.2020 is ex facie unsustainable in law as it is premised on stale, irrelevant, remote vague, imprecise and deficient grounds of detention. The impugned judgement and order concluded that most of the grounds in the detention order 'somewhat clumsy' which implies that the High Court too found them wanting".
The plea further comments on the fragility of Qayoom's health on account of him being more than 70 years of age and suffering from life threatening heart ailments showing blockade of artery to the extent of 55-60%, with uncontrolled blood sugar and surviving on one functioning kidney. Furthermore, he sustained a bullet injury in 1995 due to which he suffered cervical vertebral column injury.
"In such conditions, the Petitioner is a high risk vulnerable to COVID-19 due to several co-morbid conditions. Yet, the impugned judgment and order rejects the request for transfer of the Petitioner to a jail closer to home in Srinagar conditional on grounds that are repugnant to the constitutional jurisprudence of Article 19 and 21, and cannot be sustained in law."
In light of the above, the Petitioner had filed the instant petition for special leave to appeal against the "illegal, untenable and unconstitutional findings and observations made in the impugned judgement and order."
The matter is now listed on July 29th.