Govt hashing out PSA amendments
Law Deptt suggests reduction of detention period, immunity for juveniles
Srinagar, Aug 24: In the wake of widespread criticism over large-scale ‘preventive detentions’ by the Jammu and Kashmir government, the state’s Law Department has suggested minor changes including reduction of detention period and constitution of Advisory Board for suggesting amendments in the ‘abrasive’ Public Safety Act (PSA).
Sources told Greater Kashmir that the Law Department has forwarded a proposal regarding suggestions on PSA amendments to the Home Department so as to make the law humane and curb its widespread misuse.
They said reduction of the detention period has been suggested in the slew of measures proposed by the Law Department. At present, PSA allows two year and one year detention without any trial cases pertaining to security of the state and timber smuggling respectively.
It has also been proposed that the Advisory Board framed under the legislation should be appointed for a definite period, they disclosed.
Besides it, the department has also advised that juveniles should be kept out of the purview of the law.
The PSA-1978 provides for the constitution of an Advisory Board, comprising of a chairman and two other members. Section 17(2) of the present Act says that the Government should release the detainee if the Advisory Board feels that there is insufficient evidence for detaining him/her.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary Home B R Sharma said they are examining the suggestions. “They (Law Department) have sent something regarding it (PSA) and we are examining it. We will give our comments on it,” Sharma said.
PSA has been widely criticized for its abuse in Jammu and Kashmir.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International had recently termed PSA a "lawless law" and said the Act is being used to secure long- term detention of individuals against whom there is insufficient evidence for a trial.
Following the report, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said that his government wouldn’t confine Amnesty International remarks to the dustbin and would examine it. Last month, the State Law Minister Ali Muhammed Sagar had also said that the Government is working for amending the Act.
The law dates back to 70’s and its first victim was the president of Kashmir Motor Drivers Association (KMDA), Ghulam Nabi. In 1977 elections Ghulam Nabi contested on Janta Party ticket against National Conference leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Soon after the elections the government introduced the Public Safety Ordinance, and on 8 April 1978 it became an Act after it was passed by the state legislature.
Immediately after the enactment of the law, Ghulam Nabi was arrested and slapped with PSA becoming its first victim. In 1985 former Chief Minister Ghulam Muhammad Shah made the Act stringent by inserting section 10 (A).
The amendment made courts virtually defunct forcing the Bar to challenge it. The High Court later ruled that any order of detention could be challenged in the Court of law.
In 1990, when governor rule was imposed in the state, PSA got another amendment. The then Governor Jagmohan inserted a new section in the act. By virtue of amendment, the detainees could be detained in any jail in India. During the past 20 years thousands of people have been booked under PSA.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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