Srinagar: More than 750 habeas corpus petitions have been filed against Public Safety Act (PSA) orders since July last year.
The draconian PSA empowers the government to imprison a person for up to a year without a trial. However, after filing a Habeas Corpus petition, the detainee can be produced before a judge or in a court that would examine the grounds of his detention. The court can quash PSA detention order after examining the merits of the charges.
Since July 2016, when a massive anti-India uprising erupted following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, 522 people have been detained under this law. Of these, 257 have been released.
Fourteen-year-old Sahil Ahmad Sheikh from Srinagar is probably the youngest PSA detainee and 84-year-old Shah Wali Mohammad of Sopore the oldest.
According to data accessed by Kashmir Reader in the high court, as many as 700 Habeas Corpus petitions were filed by lawyers during the six months of the uprising last year and 50 others have been filed this year.
Not all these petitions secured release of the prisoners through. Often, after a court quashes PSA detention, authorities are ready with another PSA dossier to keep the prisoner in jail.
About 180 petitions were filed by Advocate Nasir Qadri alone. Noted criminal lawyer Advocate Mir Shafqat has filed as many as 130 petitions. Senior Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom, who heads Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, told Reader he has filed about 100 petitions during the past six months.
Qadri and Shafqat are also executive members of the Bar Association.
Mian Qayoom, however, said these petitions were not filed by any association or a cell but were presented by lawyers individually.
“A majority of these petitions have been filed free of cost,” Qadri said.
The data further revealed advocate BA Tak has filed 50 and advocate Shabir Ahmad 20 petitions. Lawyers, who represent National Conference’s legal cell, have filed about 50 petitions.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, also state’s Home Minister, earlier last month said in state Assembly that as many as 8,587 persons were detained during 2016 uprising, of which 8,473 were released by January 22.