Skip to main content

1000 plus preventive detentions in Kashmir despite non-existent rules, procedures for "draconian" Public Safety Act

By Our Representative
The reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) RTI Movement has revealed that as many as 1,003 persons were detained across the state for varying periods under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978, from March 2016 to August 2017, a period of incessant turmoil across the state.
Under PSA, a person may be locked away for a period of up to two years without the right to be produced before a judicial magistrate or hire a lawyer to defend oneself. Section 8 of the law allows a district magistrate (DM) to detain any person in order to prevent him or her from acting in a manner that may be “prejudicial to the security of the state” or for the “maintenance of public order”.
Ironically, despite such large number of “preventive” detentions, the law, scrutinized by the Amnesty International in a detailed study in 2011 for “serious” human rights violations, the J&K government home department admitted in its RTI reply that it has not made any rules or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for its operations during the four decades of its existence.
The result, says senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak in an email alert to Counterview, “District magistrates and divisional commissioners have been issuing hundreds and sometimes even thousands of detention orders every year, under the controversial law” without any standard guide, and on the basis of “reports and dossiers prepared by the J&K Police.”
The J&K RTI Movement filed the RTI application to the state home department, as also to districts magistrates across the state, following a workshop taken by Nayak, who is with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), to sensitize activists and lawyers on provisions of the law.
The RTI pleas, says Nayak, were filed “in order to document evidence based on official records about the manner of the law’s implementation.”
Apart from seeking photocopies of the rules and SOPs and total number of persons detained under the law, the RTI pleas also sought names, age, parentage, postal address and grounds for detention and exact place of lodgement of each detenue, with the request to inspect police reports and dossiers related to such detenues.
While most details of sought under RTI were not provided, the J&K Home Department said no rules and SOPs existed. Yet, interestingly, the RTI reply from Anantnag authorities said that the rule book of PSA consists of 711 pages and “is in binding shape”, hence it is “not possible to photostat the book”, and that the “book is available at government press, Srinagar." Anantnag was the worst affected district during the turmoil.
The Srinagar district authorities attached a copy of the complete text of the PSA in the reply and advised the RTI applicants to approach the proper forum, namely Home Department for the rules and the SOPs, while the DM, Kulgam, attached a copy of Section 8 of the PSA indicating that these were all the rules and SOPs that were being followed while issuing detention orders in the district.
The Budgam district authorities went so far as to question the RTI plea itself, saying the request for seeking SOP “is factually as well as legally misconceived". In fact, they treated “the act of even asking questions about the existence of SOPs under PSA as an affront to their power and authority”, comments Nayak.

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Govt of India seeks to 'subvert' autonomy of adjudicating authorities: RTI amendment

Counterview Desk
India's independent Right to Information watchdog, The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has said that the Government of India’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act to empower the Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners at the Centre and States “seriously undermine” the law.