Controversy Over Soz’s “House Arrest” Becomes Interesting

SRINAGAR: Two months after Congress leader and former Union Minister Saifuddin Soz’s wife moved the Supreme Court challenging his ‘detention’ since the nullification of Article 370 in August 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday said he was never ‘detained’.

Prof Saifuddin Soz

Taking note of the submission of the UT Administration, a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra disposed of the Habeas Corpus petition filed by Mumtazunnisa Soz seeking her husband’s release.

“There is no restriction on the movement of Prof Saifuddin Soz to any place, subject to security clearance which is contingent upon law and order and security situation of that area… Prof Soz has never been placed under any detention, as alleged,” the Special Secretary, Home, said in an affidavit filed in the top court.

No question arises of giving a copy of the detention order to Soz and his family as “no such order has ever been passed”, it said.

Admitting that there was a general restriction on the movement of people on August 5, 2019, following the nullification of Article 370, the affidavit asserted Soz was never detained or his movements restricted by passing an order.

On behalf of the petitioner, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought to contradict the official version, asserting that Soz was kept in illegal house detention. “Now, they say there is no detention,” he wondered.

However, the Bench was in no mood to entertain the petition. “In view of the reply filed, the plea is disposed of. We will not entertain it any further,” the Bench said.

Soz Reacts

Soz later in a statement said that he took “strong exception” to the government stand in the Supreme Court that he had neither been put under house-arrest nor had faced any restrictions since August 5 last year, when the centre scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and divided it into two union territories.

“The government has resorted to falsehood as it had unlawfully incarcerated me since August 5, 2019. All this while I was not allowed to move out of my premises,” Soz said.

“Whenever I went out of my premises since August 5, 2019, I had to obtain permission from the government. Now I have decided to sue the government for my unlawful house arrest since August 5, 2019. I will further sue the government for compensation for the incarceration and illegal suspension of civil liberties to which I am entitled under the Constitution,” he said.

Soz’s son Salman Anees Soz wrote on Twitter: “Dear PM @narendramodi: You lead a government of liars. For a year, my father was not allowed by police to leave our home. They had no written orders. Now J&K Govt lies. Says he wasn’t under house arrest. How low will you go? Well, after ‘no intrusion’, anything is possible.”

“The J&K Govt called my mother’s habeas corpus petition seeking my father’s release “false” & “baseless”. This clip exposes the J&K Govt as lying to the Supreme Court. Please share this and ask the Supreme Court to uphold the law & Issue a contempt notice!,” Salman Anees Soz tweeted.

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