Unjustified PSA detentions

Kashmir Times. Dated: 2/12/2020 2:30:54 PM

Grounds of detentions are not just vague but also ridiculous

The grounds for slapping the stringent Public Safety Act on three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir and other Kashmiri leaders are absurd and bizarre. On Thursday, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were served with PSA detention orders. PSA was also invoked against three other leaders - Naeem Akhtar and Sartaj Madni of PDP, and Ali Mohd. Sagar of National Conference - in the last week. Farooq Abdullah is already arrested under PSA detention since August last. On Monday, National Conference parliamentarian Mohd. Akbar Lone's son, Hilal Lone, detained since August 5 last, was also slapped with PSA. According to the dossiers, Omar Abdullah has the ability to wield influence over his electorate and encourage people to vote. He is also charged with using social media to provoke the masses. Mehbooba has been called 'Daddy's girl' and accused of making anti-national statements and extending support to organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islamia of the state, which has been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The dossier against the latter also states that she is a 'hard-headed & scheming person" who is known for "dangerous & insidious machinations." Her party symbol, a green flag with the image of an ink bottle and pen, is seen as 'Radical'. Omar Abdullah's last tweet on the night of August 14, shortly before he was placed under arrest, was an appeal for calm "whatever be in store for Kashmir". Both Mehbooba and Omar Abdullah have shared power with the ruling BJP from time to time. While the latter was Union Minister of State for External Affairs during Vajpayee regime, Mehbooba headed the PDP-BJP alliance government from 2016 to 2018. This is not the first time that the charges framed under PSA have been found to be vague, absurd and fail to stand the scrutiny of the law, but it is indeed the first time when the mainstream party leaders in bulk have been targeted.
PSA has been a draconian law which has been grossly abused in the past. It empowers the government to detain individuals without charge or trial or substantive evidence; and without disclosing facts about the detention, for a maximum of two years. Interestingly, it is one of the few laws of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, which have been retained in toto after the special status of the state was revoked and the state bifurcated into two union territories. Enacted in 1978 by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah explicitly for targeting timber smugglers, the law for decades was used as a tool of political vendetta by the local leaders. Post-insurgency in 1990, it has been used as a tool to instill fear amongst those suspected to be sympathetic to militants or separatist politics. Though the PSA detentions can be challenged in court and on most occasions, they have been quashed because of the vagueness of the charges and its unsustainability before law, a common practice in recent years has been that the police slammed multiple PSA cases to keep suspects behind bars. In several cases, the HC has held that PSA was used as a tool to ensure the suspect remains in jail even after getting bail in other cases. Many youth have languished in jails for over 10 years due to multiple PSAs invoked against them. One of the most recent glaring cases is of the septuagenarian lawyer and Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Council, Srinagar, president, Mian Qayoom, who was arrested under PSA on August 5 and was lodged in Agra jail, where his health deteriorated late January and he was shifted to Tihar jail after a brief check-up. A petition challenging his detention in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, last week, was dismissed. The petition was filed on grounds that the charges under PSA were vague, indefinite, uncertain, and baseless as also ambiguous and lack in material particulars and essential details. The court observed that "A court is not a proper forum to scrutinize the merits of administrative decision to detain a person." Though the court has recently quashed some PSAs recently in December, it appears to have taken a different position on Qayoom. The law has always been draconian but the manner in which it is now being used is even more horrifying.



Indian History... Read More



Daily horoscope