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High Court quashes Public Safety Act against minor

Post by Syed Rukaya on Sunday, January 8, 2023

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Srinagar, Jan 07: Quashing a detention order under Public Safety Act (PSA) against a Shopian boy who was minor when he was slapped with PSA, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh observed that grounds of detention reflects as if the District Magistrate, Shopian was penning down a "fictionalized character" conceived in the petitioner.
A single bench of Justice Rahul Bharti while holding the detention order "illegal" observed that the detaining authority seems to have lost the idea of age of the petitioner to whom the preventive detention was being served and that fact itself is a reflective of the "non-application of mind" on the part of the District Magistrate, Shopian.
"The impugned order of detention is nothing but a mere postal delivery of the dossier of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Shopian," the bench said.
The court was hearing habeas corpus petition filed by 18-year-old boy through his uncle on July 15, last year challenging detention order issued by the District Magistrate Shopian in exercise of his powers under clause-A of Section 8 of J&K PSA, 1978 on June 26, 2022 on the ground that the activities of the boy is "prejudicial to the security of J&K as well as country."
The petitioner while filing the plea reckoned himself to be minor and addressed his position from that perspective.
The court noted that the petitioner was hardly out of his age of majority of 18 years and was yet to attain age of 19 years when he came to be visited upon not by the "challenge of life but by the challenge of law" in the conferment of preventive detention order passed by District Magistrate Shopian holding the personal liberty of the petitioner as "prejudicial to the security of UT/country."
"Thus from the age of minority the petitioner found himself landed in the aging of preventive custody by virtue of said detention order," the court said.
The court pointed out whether the petitioner has attained the age of majority or not is a borderline case, but the fact remains that the petitioner is of the "very impressionable" age.
Justice Bharti said it is repulsive to the probability that an 18-year-old boy can be attributed such generalized allegations which even in the case of hardcore offender of law may fall short on some counts.
In the name of grounds of detention, the court pointed out, the District Magistrate, Shopian has done nothing but borrowed a word-wise-word transcript of the dossier of the SSP, Shopian.
"This Court feels disturbed that how and to what extent the detention to which the petitioner has come to be subjected on the basis of the impugned order of detention in terms whereof the petitioner at such an impressionable age has come to be exposed to be in the company of the hardcore jail inmates/detenues and the time spent by him during the course of his detention, must have caused psychological damage to him," Justice Bharti observed.
The court underscored that from the grounds of challenge it is not forthcoming as to which alleged antecedent acts of the petitioner came to be reported to the District Magistrate, Shopian by the SSP, Shopian "because there are no factual references found in the grounds of detention supporting the impugned order of detention."
"A bare reading of the grounds of detention in support of the order of detention reflects as if the District Magistrate, Shopian was penning down a fictionalized character conceived in the petitioner," the bench recorded.
Allowing the plea, the court held the detention order passed by District Magistrate Shopian "illegal" in all its intents and purposes and directed for the release of petitioner forthwith from the preventive detention. 
Justice Bharti while quashing the detention order directed the Superintendent of the concerned jail to ensure to release the petitioner forthwith without any loss of time in compliance to the directions of the court.

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