Srinagar: The Supreme Court on Friday prohibited the Jammu and Kashmir government from preventive detention of Muslim League chairman Masrat Alam.
Hearing a petition filed by Alam’s uncle, Farooq Ahmed Bhat, a division bench of the Apex Court directed the government to inform Masrat Alam a week before his preventive detention so as to enable him chance to take action against it.
The directions followed the information by the state government that Alam’s latest detention order under the Public Safety Act has been revoked.
On last date of hearing on 22 February, a division bench of the court comprising Justice R.M. Lodha, J. Chelameswar, and Madan B. Lokur had granted the government two weeks to submit counter affidavit in the case following the request by the counsel for the state “in view of the peculiar situation prevailing in J&K.”
In his petition, Bhat has said Alam’s life has been reduced to nothing but a continuous period of incarceration without trial.
Besides his release without delay, Bhat had sought directions to government not to detain his nephew thereafter on identical grounds as the previous detention orders. “Strict legal action should be taken against the officers of the state for violating his fundamental rights,” the petitioner had prayed.
Bhat also seeks compensation for the “mental harassment” and injury suffered by Alam or any other order Apex Court may deem just and proper.
Bhat had challenged “the gross abuse of the provisions of the K&K Public Safety Act, 1978 by the respondents (government).”
“Sixteen successive detention orders under PSA has been issued against my nephew, Masrat Alam Bhat, and kept him in almost continuous and unbroken custody since the year 1990,” Bhat says in the petition.
Between 1990 and 2005, Bhat said, Alam never challenged the detention orders and served out the entire period of detention.
“He therefore spent more than twelve out of the fifteen year period between 1990 to 2005 in preventive detention,” he said, adding, “Since 2007, my nephew challenged, with success, each and every detention Order.”
Each of the nine detention Orders have been quashed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Srinagar, he said.
“On several grounds such as identical nature of grounds of detention as previously quashed Orders, non compliance with the constitutional and statutory requirement of supply of material which formed the basis of the detention Order, non provision of the opportunity to make a representation against the Order of detention.”
Alam, who is presently lodged in District Jail, Kathua, was detained under PSA for the first time on 2-10-1990. As per petition, he was released more than a year thereafter, in November 1991.
A Biscoe School pass out, Alam was detained for a second time in 1993 and kept in custody for more than four years, “through repeated extensions of the detention Orders and released only in February 1997.”
“Less than six months thereafter, on September 1997, he was detained third time for almost three years and released only in May 2000,” Bhat said, “He was detained for a fourth time in January, 2001 released in August 2003.”
He was detained for the fifth time on 07 October to 2003 July 2005. Since, 16 Jan 2008 he has been detained on nine occasions under PSA.
The last PSA order was issued on 30 October last by the District Magistrate, Srinagar. Bhat has filed the petition through advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan.