Government approves PSA amendments
Srinagar, Oct 19: After global rights watchdog, Amnesty International, mounted pressure on Jammu and Kashmir government to revoke “lawless” Public Safety Act, the state cabinet Wednesday approved certain amendments in the law to make it “humane.”
Sources said the cabinet which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah discussed the proposal by the state’s Law Department to carry out the amendments in the PSA.
One of the major amendments proposed is that in case of public disorder the detention period under PSA should be reduced from existing one year to three months only. “Later it can be extended upto one year,” sources privy to the meeting said.
In cases involving security of the state, the Law Department has proposed that the detention period should be reduced from 2-years to 6-months which could be extended to the 2-years later.
Besides the amendments include that an accused who is less than 18-years of age should not be detained under PSA. “This clause would be meant for the state subjects only and not for the foreigners,” sources said. The proposal also included that a detainee under PSA would be communicated in his/her own language about grounds of detention and all the formalities for slapping PSA on an accused should be completed within six weeks instead of eight weeks as given under the existing provisions of the Act. Besides, Chairman of Public Safety Advisory Board can be appointed for two terms only.
Officials said it is for the first time that major amendments have been proposed in the Act. An in-house committee in the Law Department had approved the amendments and sent them to the state Home Department - the concerned implementing administrative department on the PSA - for approval. Government is likely to bring an ordinance to implement the amendments since the budget session of the state legislature is almost four months away.
Last year, Amnesty International released a report on detentions in JK under the PSA terming it a “lawless law.” The international rights body called for immediate abolition of the system of “administrative detentions.”
“Hundreds of people are detained under the PSA in JK, and instead of charging and trying persons suspected of committing offences through a fair trial in a court of law, the J&K authorities continue to circumvent the rule of law by resorting to the PSA,” Amnesty said in its voluminous report.
Legal experts had been consistently demanding review of J&K Public Safety Act-1978 maintaining that the legislation falls short of the recognized norms of justice, such as equality before law, the right of the accused to appear before a Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, fair trial and access to counsel and many other provisions.
The AI had criticized government for treating boys above the age of 16 as adults and detaining them without trial under the PSA and ordinary criminal law, holding them in regular prisons along with the adult prisoners.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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