The National Conference (NC) on Monday moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking release of 16 party leaders who have been detained at their houses “illegally” since 5 August last year when the centre abrogated the special status of J&K and split the state into two union territories (UTs)

NC President and Lok Sabha member Farooq Abdullah and NC vice president Omar Abdullah filed the habeas corpus petitions, challenging “the unconstitutional and illegal house detention” of senior leaders and functionaries.

A statement issued by the party said, Farooq Abdullah has filed the petition for the release of NC leaders Ali Mohammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Nasir Aslam Wani, Aga Syed Mehmood, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Irfan Shah, and Sahmeema Firdous.

His son Omar Abdullah, who is also a former chief minister, has challenged the detention of Mohammad Shafi Uri, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, Chaudhary Mohammad Ramzaan, Mubarak Gul, Bashir Veeri, Abdul Majeed Larmi, Basharat Bukhari, Saifudin Bhat Shutru, and Mohammad Shafi.

The petitions were filed on behalf of the two leaders by senior lawyer Shariq Reyaz.

Party spokesman Imran Nabi Dar said the decision to move the high court was taken so as to provide relief to party members who have continuously been under house arrest or were kept under house detention after being released from custody under the stringent Public Safety Act.

“Shifting of the detainees from detention centres to their homes only characterized revolving-door detention practice. Quashing of the Public Safety Act (PSA) on party general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar underscored the indefensible nature of all detentions in the court of law, leading us to believe that the administration will release all the detainees in the absence of any convincing reason behind it.

“Unfortunately that was not to be. The house detentions without any administrative orders are unlawful, undermining due respect to human rights and individual liberty,” he said.

The spokesperson expressed hope that the legal system will come to the rescue of their colleagues, who have been suffering for no fault ever since the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, Article 35 A of the Constitution on 5 August, 2019.

“This was the only recourse left to us. We are hopeful that the court will uphold the civil liberties of our colleagues most of whom have not been keeping well,” the spokesman added.