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SC judge recuses himself from hearing plea challenging Omar Abdullah's detention

New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Justice M M Shantanagoudar recused himself on Wednesday from hearing the plea filed by Sara Abdullah Pilot challenging the detention of her brother and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah under the J-K Public Safety Act.

Pilot's plea came up for hearing before a three-judge bench comprising justices N V Ramana, Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna.

"I am not participating in this matter," Justice Shantanagoudar said at the outset without citing any specific reason for his recusal.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Pilot, urged the bench to list the matter for Friday. The bench agreed to the request and listed it for hearing on February 14.

Pilot had on Monday moved the top court challenging her brother's detention under the J-K Public Safety Act, 1978, saying the order of detention is "manifestly illegal" and there is no question of him being a "threat to the maintenance of public order". The plea has sought quashing of the February 5 order detaining Abdullah, former chief minister of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, under the PSA and also sought his production before the court.

Pilot has said that exercise of powers by authorities under the CrPC to detain individuals, including political leaders, was "clearly mala fide to ensure that the opposition to the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution is silenced".

Her plea said the intent of exercise of power was to "incarcerate not just him but the entire leadership of the National Conference, as well as the leadership of other political parties, who were similarly dealt with including Farooq Abdullah, who has served the state and the union over several years... stood by India whenever the situation so demanded." It said that on the intervening night of August 4-5, 2019, Abdullah was put under house arrest and it was later learnt that section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 was invoked to justify such arrest.

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