New Delhi, March 5: The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed March 17 as the date for hearing a plea challenging former Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah’s detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

The petition was moved by Sara Abdullah, the sister of Omar and wife of Rajasthan Chief Minister Sachin Pilot. She has accused the J&K administration of usurping the “right to liberty” of her brother by placing him under the PSA despite him being under detention for the last six months.

The PSA, a stringent law in J&K enacted in 1978 during the tenure of Omar’s grandfather Sheikh Abdullah, mandates the authorities to detain a person for upto two years without trial. The law invoked against Omar and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, who is also a former J&K CM, on February 5 — nearly six months after they were detained in the wake of Article 370 abrogation. 

The apex court had earlier fixed March 5 as the date of hearing the petition. However, Sara’s counsel and Congress lawmaker Kapil Sibal was informed by the bench on Thursday that the hearing in the case has been postponed till March 17.

Sara’s petition moved before the bench in February, said Omar had no access to communication since August last year. His tweets and public statements issued before Article 370 repeal suggest that he advocated for peace at all costs.

“All the public statements and messages posted by Omar Abdullah during the period up to his first detention would reveal that he kept calling for peace and co-operation – messages which in Gandhi’s India cannot remotely affect public order,” the petition states.

“The PSA order conflates ‘Governmental policy’ with the ‘Indian State’, suggesting that any opposition to the former constitutes a threat to the latter. This is wholly antithetical to a democratic polity and undermines the Indian Constitution”, the plea further added.

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