“How long can Mehbooba Mufti be kept in custody”, the Supreme Court asked the centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration today as it heard her daughter’s petition challenging the former Chief Minister’s detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
Mehbooba Mufti, the chief of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been in detention for over a year after was arrested on the eve of the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into two Union Territories on August 5 last year.
The top court today gave two weeks’ time to the Jammu and Kashmir administration to give its stand on how long Ms Mufti can be kept in custody and whether her custody can be extended beyond one year.
“What is the proposal of Jammu and Kashmir administration on her detention,” a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said during the hearing through video-conferencing.
In July, Ms Mufti’s detention under the Public Safety Act was extended for another three months.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represents the government, asked judges not to make any observation and said Jammu and Kashmir has had a history of violence.
“The history of the state is wonderful, but what one can one say. Prima facie you have exceeded the maximum period of detention,” Justice Kaul said.
Iltija Mufti had approached the Supreme Court seeking her mother’s release. She also sought permission from the court for filing a habeas corpus, to produce Mehbooba Mufti in court. In her plea, Iltija Mufti says her mother’s detention is illegal and that the Jammu and Kashmir administration is yet to file its reply to her earlier petition despite a notice and this, she said, shows the respect the authorities have for the court.
Former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, who too were detained under the Public Safety Act, have already been released.