Rashid Paul

HC asks Admin to ensure liberty of ANC is not curtailed

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Srinagar March 10: The High Court today directed the J&K administration to immediately withdraw the security personnel deputed at the residence of Khalida Shah and Muzaffar Ahmad Shah leaders of the Awami National Conference to ensure their liberty is not curtailed.

“We” Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Dhiraj Singh Thakur “direct the respondents (State of J&K and others in the case) to immediately withdraw the security personnel deputed at the residence of the appellants (Khalida Shah and Muzaffar Shah, daughter and grandson of Sheikh M Abdullah), either within or outside their premises”.

The judges further directed the respondents to ensure that the liberty of the appellants is not curtailed except in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law.

An affidavit has to be filed by the secretary Home Department, Union Territory of J&K within one week to show compliance.

Khalida and Muzaffar in an appeal before the court claimed that they had been placed under house arrest at their own residential house at  Moulana Azad Road, Srinagar, since 5th of August, 2019, the day government of India ended the autonomous status of J&K and demoted it to a union territory.

The house arrest is unlawful without any just cause or reason and is in gross violation of their fundamental rights, they said in their petition. They alleged that they had not been informed as to why they were under house arrest.

Their personal security staff deputed with them was directed by the senior officers not to allow the arrested persons leave the boundaries of their residence till further orders, the affidavit further said.

The administration however stated that the appellants had neither been placed under house arrested nor was their liberty curtailed.

Counsel for the appellants, B. A. Bashir, however, questioned the stand of the respondents saying it would make no sense for the appellants to knock the doors of the court if actually they were either not placed under house arrest or their liberty not curtailed.

“It defies logic as to why the appellants would be knocking the doors of this court if their liberty was not actually curtailed. It is not the stand of the respondents that the appellants were trying to draw any political mileage by raking up the present controversy”, the court observed.

To settle the matter a suggestion was made in the court whether the scions of Sheikh Abdullah were prepared to surrender their security so that it could be withdrawn from their premises.

The suggestion was readily welcomed by the government lawyer but the counsels for the Shah’s were initially reluctant to let the security go off.

Later the counsel for the Shah’s gave in to pulling out of the police personnel from their premises.

The judges observed that they do not know whether the respondent state have ever reviewed the threat perception to the appellants to determine as to whether they require the security cover at all or the extent thereof.

“It would be open to the appellants to apply for such a security cover later in point of time, which request would then be considered on its own merits by the respondents according to the standard procedure”, said the court.

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