Wahid Bhat, Srinagar | After many leaders of J&K, now National Conference leader Hilal Akber Lone, 47, was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) became eighth mainstream leader to be booked under it.
Hilal is a son of Parliament member and senior NC leader Mohammad Akbar Lone. Detained on August 5, 2019, during the clampdown against the mainstream leaders in the wake of the revocation of J&K’s special status, the extension of detention of Hilal Akbar under the PSA would mean he could be held behind the bars without a trial up to two years and his release depends on the charges leveled against him.
The development comes just six days after four mainstream leaders including two former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah also faced the PSA.
Omar Abdullah’s father and another former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) on September 16, 2019. He had also been kept under house arrest since the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
What is Public Safety Act of Jammu & Kashmir?
The Public Safety Act, 1978 of Jammu and Kashmir is a defensive detention law that allows taking a person into custody to prevent him or her from acting in any matter that is prejudicial to “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order”.
Under the act, a person can be held for 2 years without trial and they need not be produced before a court.
A similar act called the National Security Act (NSA) is used by the other state governments for preventive detention.
According to the definition, preventive detention is meant to be protective, not punitive. When government authorities slap the PSA on an individual they give this broad definition as the most common ground for detention.
Any person can be booked under PSA when an administrative order passed either by Divisional Commissioner (DC) or the District Magistrate (DM). Any detention under this act can’t be made under the order by police based on specific allegations or for a specific violation of laws.
What happens after detention under PSA?
The District Magistrate (DM) communicates to the person within five days and informs him about the reason for the detention in writing. However, DM has a right to communicate within 10 days in exceptional cases. It is important because on the basis on that communication a detained person can make a representation against the order. However, District Magistrate has powers to not to disclose all the facts on the basis of the detention is ordered.
Constitutional safeguards to a detained person
According to Article 22 (a) of the constitution, no person who is arrested will be detained in the custody without being informed. He will be communicated until he shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
A person detained under the PSA shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours (article 22-b).