Supreme Court disposes of octogenarian Congress leader and former Union Minister Prof. Saifuddin Soz's habeas corpus plea against the Government of Jammu and Kashmir's detention order, in view of J&K Home Department's Affidavit which claims that Prof. Soz had never been placed under detention in the first place.
A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah heard the matter and disposed the same, observing that the plea would not be entertained any further as the Counter Affidavit filed by the J&K Home Department contended that there was no restriction on Prof. Soz's movement to any place. Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Dr. Soz, submitted to the Court about the contradictory stands of the government, stating, "One fine day in August, you put me under detention. Now in their Counter, they say that I am not under detention and that I'm free". To this, Justice Mishra remarked that the Counter averred that Prof. Soz had travelled outside J&K. Dr. Singhvi responded that the Petitioner had been unwell, and had only travelled for medical reasons. Refusing to address any other submissions of Singhvi, the Bench proceeded to dispose of the matter in view of the Counter Affidavit which stated that "no such order [pertaining to detention of Prof. Soz] has ever been passed". The habeas corpus petition, filed by Advocate-on-Record Sunil Fernandes, on behalf of Prof. Soz's wife, Mrs. Mumtazunnisa Soz, stated that "ten months have passed since his first detention and he is yet to be informed of his grounds of detention. All efforts by him to obtain a copy of the detention order(s) have been of no avail due to the illegal, arbitrary exercise of powers by the Respondent No. 2". The plea further contended that the detention was wholly contrary and perverse to the constitutional safeguards laid down under Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India, as well as the law on preventive detention. It was further in contravention of the statutory scheme of the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978, under which the detention order had been purportedly passed. However, in a denial of the contentions placed in the habeas corpus plea, the J&K Home Department filed a Counter Affidavit, claiming that the Petitioner had never been detained, nor put under any house arrest. It further stated that there was no question of provision of detention order as no such order had been passed in the first place. Averring that the submissions in the plea were "false, frivolous and baseless", the Counter also alluded to two instances of Prof. Soz having travelled outside J&K by air in 2019. Additionally, the claim that the Station House Officer of Budgam had visited the Petitioner's residence to instruct the security guards about the alleged detention was also denied by the J&K Home Department.