Recently, after the killings of non-locals in Jammu and Kashmir around 700 people have been detained in the union territory, a few under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
Powers of government under the Public Safety Act:
Also called the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978, it is a preventive detention law.
- Under this law, a person is taken into custody to prevent him or her from acting in any manner that is prejudicial to “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order”.
- The law allowed the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
- It allows for administrative detention for up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
How is it enforced?
- It comes into force when administrative orders are passed either by Divisional Commissioner or the District Magistrate.
- The detaining authority need not disclose any facts about the detention “which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.
Protection to enforcing authorities:
Section 22 of the Act provides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act: “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this Act.”
Why is the law controversial?
- It allows for detention without trial.
- No Right to File Bail
- It provides a vast number of reasons for detention.
- No Distinction Between Minor and Major Offences.
Can the Courts intervene?
The only way this administrative preventive detention order can be challenged is through a habeas corpus petition filed by relatives of the detained person. The High Court and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to hear such petitions.
- However, if the order is quashed, there is no bar on the government passing another detention order under the PSA and detaining the person again.