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High Court Quashes Five PSA Detention Orders in Kashmir

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh recently nullified five detention orders under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and directed the authorities to release the detainees from preventive custody. The judgments, delivered by Justices Sanjay Dhar and Moksha Kazmi, highlighted significant lapses in the application of the PSA by the respective District Magistrates. The court’s rulings underscore the importance of adhering to legal safeguards to prevent arbitrary detentions.

Justice Sanjay Dhar invalidated the PSAs of four individuals: Ikhlaq Gulzar Thokar, Ajaz Ahmad Khan, Javaid Ahmad Kaloo, and Tahir Shameem Lone. These individuals were detained by the District Magistrates of Shopian, Ganderbal, Srinagar, and Shopian, respectively, on various dates. The judgments noted that the detaining authorities had failed to apply their minds to the specifics of each case, rendering the detention orders unsustainable in law.

Justice Moksha Kazmi annulled the PSA of Mufeez Ahmad Zargar from Tral Pulwama, who was detained by the District Magistrate Pulwama. In her ruling, Justice Kazmi underscored the necessity of providing detainees with all the material upon which their detention orders were based. She stated that the failure to do so not only contravenes legal standards but also makes the detention orders illegal and unsustainable.

The court directed that the detainees be released forthwith, unless they are required in connection with other cases. This immediate release order reflects the urgency and gravity of correcting the procedural and legal errors identified in the detention orders.

One of the key observations in these judgments was the non-application of mind by the Detaining Authority. For instance, in Ajaz Ahmad Khan’s case, his detention was linked to the security concerns surrounding the Shri Amarnathji Yatra of 2022. The court noted that post-event, his continued detention was unnecessary, pointing to a lack of proper assessment of the current necessity for such detention.

In Javaid Ahmad Kaloo’s case, the court highlighted breaches in observing vital safeguards against the arbitrary use of preventive detention. These safeguards are crucial in maintaining the balance between security concerns and individual liberties. The court’s findings in Kaloo’s case demonstrate a failure to uphold these fundamental protections.

Similarly, in the case of Tahir Shameem Lone, the judgment pointed out the failure of the detaining authority to acknowledge that Lone had already been granted bail in another case. This oversight further illustrated the lack of diligence and consideration in issuing the detention orders.

Overall, these judgments by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh emphasize the critical importance of adhering to procedural and legal safeguards in the use of preventive detention. They serve as a reminder to the authorities that the detention orders must be meticulously scrutinized and justified to prevent the misuse of such a powerful legal tool.

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