Says ‘subjective satisfaction’ illegal as detention ground
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has quashed the Public Safety Act (PSA) detention against self-styled faith healer Ahmed Bhat Gulzar alias Gulzar Peer. The court ordered the state to set him free as “it is legally erroneous to keep him in jail for subjective satisfaction”.
Bhat, a resident of Shamasabad Khansahib, was ordered to be detained under PSA March 8 by the Budgam district magistrate who cited the reason for the detention as maintenance of the security of the state.
The detention order was upheld by a single-judge bench on August 3.
The division bench of Jammu wing, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sanjay Kumar Gupta, while quashing the detention order observed that subjective satisfaction to justify detention is illegal.
“The view expressed by the single judge that the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority had not been arrived at wrongly and that the nature and gravity of the accusation against (Bhat) was sufficient to justify his detention, in our opinion, is legally erroneous,” the court said and ordered the authorities to release him “forthwith if otherwise not wanted in any other case”.
The detention order against Bhat states that when victims and their families staged protests against his release in Budgam, it was necessary to keep him under PSA for safeguarding peace and normalcy in the state.
The order also stated that various anti-national organisations always looked for “such opportunities” and they could have exploited the sentiments of the common masses and provoked them to violence.
Bhat had challenged the order and claimed that the district magistrate has not adhered to constitutional and statutory safeguards available to him under the Constitution of India and the J&K PSA 1978.
From the order it is clear that it does not suggest that Bhat was being detained with a view to prevent him from indulging in activities which could be prejudicial to the maintenance of public order and that in case he was not so detained, there was apprehension that the activities in which he indulged in the past would be repeated by him, the court said, adding, “On the other hand, the order impugned has been passed only with a view to prevent the consequences i.e., public protests and exploitation of the issue by the separatists. Clearly, this cannot at all be a ground for detention. (Bhat) cannot be deprived of his personal liberty only because somebody else would raise a protest and exploit the issue arising on account of his release. This would clearly be a misuse of the provisions of the Public Safety Act,” the division bench said.
The high court on February 23, while upholding the acquittal order by Sessions Court, Budgam, had ordered Gulzar’s release from custody forthwith if not required in any other case.
The case (FIR 40/2015) was filed after four girls studying at Peer’s seminary in Shamasabad village complained on May 19, 2013, that the accused had been raping them after calling them to his chamber on the pretext of religious teachings.
The girls in their statement before the police have said that while committing the crime, Peer would raise the volume of a tape recorder to drown their cries. They also alleged that he would render them unconscious by casting “magical spells” on them.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted by the police and a charge sheet filed against Gulzar for commission of offence under RPC Section 376 (rape). Gulzar and other accused were acquitted by the Sessions Court, Budgam, on February 12, 2015, with the court observing that the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt against them.