Quashes the latest PSA order that charged him with ‘making ongoing agitation successful while in custody’
Srinagar: The high court Tuesday ordered release of Muslim League chairman and senior Hurriyat Conference (G) leader Masrat Alam Bhat “forthwith from preventive detention”.
Allowing Alam’s plea challenging the latest of the detention orders under Public Safety Act, a single bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar held it illegal on a number of grounds.
“By issuance of writ of certiorari, order of detention bearing No. 85/DMB/PSA/2016 dated 1.9.2016, passed by the (deputy commissioner Baramulla) is quashed with a further direction to the (government) to release Alam forthwith from preventive custody,” the court said.
The latest of the orders under the draconian PSA, a legislation termed as ‘lawless law’ by the Amnesty International, was passed by District Magistrate Baramulla. It accused Masrat of “making the ongoing agitation successful while in custody of the state authorities.”
The order was passed on the basis of Alam’s meeting on 11 August this year with four persons who visited District Jail, Baramulla.
The persons had actually requested authorities to allow them meet one Assadullah Parray of Kathpora Hajin, who is allegedly affiliated with Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani.
The authorities claimed that instead of meeting Parray, the visitors met Alam who “advised them to activate the workers for a more visible and prominent role in the ongoing turmoil.”
Subsequently, a case (FIR No. 258/2016) was filed against him at police station Baramulla on August 30, two days before the detention order under PSA against Alam was passed by the deputy commissioner.
“Even otherwise, record would show … statements of four police personnel, who were posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have been recorded. Their statements would show that Assadullah Parray was lodged in Bark No.7, whereas (Alam) was lodged in Bark No.8. The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these police personnel to ensure mat the visitors would meet Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not (Alam),” the court observed.
The material produced before the court also did not suggest that all those persons, after allegedly meeting Alam, did actually indulge in such activities, which would either adversely impact security of the state or public order.
“The record further does not show that what actually transpired between Alam and those four persons in the alleged meeting they had with each other in the jail premises,” the court said, underling that “no reasonable person, in such circumstance, would even, for the purposes of taking a person into preventive custody, rely upon such material as the act deprives a person of his liberty.”
The court said the Supreme Court in case of Gogoi Vs state of Assam ruled that the ground that a person, while in state custody maintained links with people, cannot become basis for ordering his detention.
The court also rendered detention order illegal on the reason that the bail application of Alam had been rejected by a court and he continued to languish in the state custody.
“The detaining authority, in this fact situation, could not assume that there is every likelihood of (Alam) being released on bail.”
The court also held the order illegal for not communicating documents to Alam to enable him make an effective representation against his detention, which is imperative under Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India.
The Court said the democratic society not only swear but live by democratic values and principles. “Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus, they prove to be better than many human beings,” the court said.
While advocate Mian Qayoom represented Alam, state was represented by advocate Asif Maqbool.
Alam was released after a 53-month-long captivity on March 7 last year. However he was again re-arrested on 17 April 2015 and was ordered to be detained under the PSA by the ruling PDP-BJP government to calm down “anger” expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi against his release. His earlier PSA detentions were also quashed by the high court with a direction to authorities to release him. But he continues to be behind bars.