Masarat Alam Has Not Repented: HC Upholds 36th PSA Detention

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Friday did not overturn the 36th detention order under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) against Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam Bhat, currently lodged at Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu, citing the reason that Alam’s activities were a threat to the state’s security.

Justice Tashi Rabstan, who had reserved his verdict on Alam’s detention two weeks ago, pronounced the judgement on Friday.

Justice Rabstan held that Masarat Alam had not repented for his activities and “come on the right track as a normal citizen of India”. “As is discernible from the detention record, (Alam) remained following ideology of secessionism, extremism and fanaticism, which is evident from as many as 50 FIRs lodged and registered against him. It is not once in a blue moon but 50 times that 50 FIRs registered vis-à-vis loss of life and property (against him), which, therefore, cannot be said as an exception, but indoctrination, abetment and instigation of youth,” the judge said in his verdict.

“Such activities are not for interest of social fabric or nation’s integrity and sovereignty, much less public order or security of the State. Those activities are, obviously, detrimental, and not fruitful, for the society. Having said that, impugned detention order need not be interfered with,” Justice Rabstan ordered.

The judge observed that from a look at the detention record of Alam, it is clear that he is an active member of Hurriyat Conference (G) and “is a staunch supporter of secessionist ideology, seeking cessation of the State of J&K from the Union of India.”

The judge further said, “Detenue is shown to have organised a group in the name of Muslim League, which is headed by detenue himself. His activities are said to have caused huge ‘loss of life and property’, particularly during 2008, 2010 and 2016.

Detenue has been shown issuing protest calendars, which caused huge loss to the State in terms of revenue as common people and employees were not able to earn their livelihood due to these protests organised by detenue and his associates, and forced people to adhere to the same forcibly, through stone pelting.”

The judge remarked that Alam, “as is discernible from grounds of detention, will persist in his efforts to create situation of chaos in the area in particular and the Valley in general.”

“Thus, it is deducible from detention record that there was material before detaining authority to come to conclusion and hence, it cannot be said that subjective satisfaction of detaining authority was wrongly arrived at or grounds of detention are self-contradictory or vague,” Justice Rabstan ruled.

He also said, “It is germane to mention that the Supreme Court, in several decisions, has held that even one prejudicial act can be treated as sufficient for forming requisite satisfaction for detaining a person.”

Further, the court said, “It our collective obligation to save and protect the State and its subjects from uncertainty, melancholy and turmoil.”

The petition before the court was moved by Alam’s uncle for overturning the 36th PSA detention order against Alam which was executed on November 17, 2017, on the grounds that Alam was a citizen of Jammu and Kashmir and entitled to protection under Article 21 and rights guaranteed by Part III of the Indian Constitution.

He had also stated in his petition that from the year 1990, when Alam was barely 19 years old, he had been continuously in detention except for two years between 1991 and 1993, from February 1997 to September 1997, and from May 2000 to January 2001, and thereafter intermittently.

The petition stated that Alam was not under any legally valid life sentence imposed after trial and conviction by a competent court of law. By imposing order after order of preventive detention on similar, if not same grounds, he was being forced to serve a virtual life sentence with no end in sight, the petition said, calling it tantamount to deprivation of liberty. (KR)

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