Govt tells SC: Soz free. Soz: No, I am not
The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that former Union minister Saifuddin Soz “is free” and “was never detained or put under house arrest”, a statement that a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra recorded before disposing of the petition filed by Mumtazunnisa Soz seeking her husband’s release.
Hours later, Soz told The Telegraph over the phone that he remained under house arrest. “I tried to step out of my home at 5.30pm today but I was turned back by police,” Soz said on Wednesday evening.
Mumtazunnisa had in May this year petitioned the top court for immediate production of her husband who, she said, was under illegal detention at home since August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was abrogated in the then state of Jammu and Kashmir.
But in an affidavit filed before the court, the government said the senior Congress leader was neither detained nor put under house arrest. Soz was free to move, it added.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Soz, expressed surprise at the administration’s stand and submitted that the octogenarian was under illegal house detention.
But the bench recorded the submission made by solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and said it would not entertain any further application in view of the categorical position taken by the government.
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.”
Saifuddin Soz told this paper that in the past year, he has been able to move out of his home only after seeking government permission. “I was allowed twice to go to Delhi and thrice to see my ailing sister but on all these occasions I had to seek permission. Otherwise, I am never allowed,” the former minister said.
The Congress veteran, in a statement, accused the government of resorting to “falsehood” and said he would sue it for compensation for violating his civil liberties.