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The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday declined to entertain the pleas filed by the kin of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah challenging their alleged house arrest by the State.
Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey dismissed the pleas filed by Muzafar Ahmad Shah, Begum Khalida Shah and Dr. Mustaffa Kamal in this regard, opining that their plea involved disputed questions of fact in which case the High Court is not the appropriate forum to approach by way of a writ petition. The order reads,
“… a Writ Court is neither to hold an enquiry into the allegations made in a petition, nor take oral evidence. In writ proceedings, a fact is to be supported and proved by authentic documentary evidence.
Whereas the petitioners had alleged that they were being unlawfully detained in their houses since September 5, 2019, the State countered the submission on the strength of a communication by the Additional Deputy Commissioner. The said communication stated that neither have the petitioners being placed under house arrest, nor has their liberty been curbed.
In response, the petitioners’ counsel had also submitted certain paper clippings to show that the petitioners were in fact under house arrest. However, the Court declined to place reliance on the same, remarking that,
“Press cuttings cannot be relied upon as authentic documentary evidence. Further, a Writ Court cannot hold enquiry into disputed facts.“
The Court proceeded to observe that,
“Once facts are disputed, the writ petition is rendered not maintainable. In such circumstances, the only option available to a Writ Court is to dismiss the writ petition, leaving the party concerned free to take recourse to appropriate remedy.”
It, therefore, dismissed the petition as not maintainable before the High Court and unnecessary. However, the judge clarified that the parties were free to pursue other appropriate legal remedies available to them.
“In light of the above, this petition is dismissed, as being not maintainable and unnecessary, leaving the petitioner free to take appropriate remedy available to him under law before an appropriate forum.“
Farooq Abdullah himself was recently placed under house arrest invoking the Public Safety Act (PSA), following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
A Habeas Corpus plea had earlier been moved in the Supreme Court to produce Abdullah. However, this plea was disposed off by the Court after the State invoked the provisions of the PSA on September 15, days before the Court was set to hear the matter next. Recently, the Government extended Abdullah’s detention under the PSA for another three months.
[Read the Judgement here]