EXPLAINED: What is Public Safety Act of Jammu and Kashmir and what are its provisions?

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Published: September 16, 2019 5:52 PM

The government has slapped Public Safety Act on former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Abdullah along with his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti was placed under house arrest just hours before the central government announced the revocation of Article 370.

Public Safety Act, psa, Public Safety Act news, Public Safety law, kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, article 370, special status, detention law, indian law for detention, detention periodFarooq Abdullah along with his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti was placed under house arrest just hours before the central government scrapped Article 370. (PMO India/Twitter)

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has been slapped with Public Safety Act, which allows the authorities to detain a person for a maximum period of two years. He was earlier detained under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. Farooq Abdullah along with his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti was placed under house arrest just hours before the central government announced the revocation of the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. The government at the centre feared that the state leaders may erupt in protest against the move so as a precautionary measure they were taken under custody. While Abdullah’s detention has been changed to PSA, Omar and Mehbooba continue to be under house arrest under the Criminal Procedure Code.

What is Public Safety Act?

The act lays down guidelines required to maintain the safety and security of the people and the state. The PSA empowers the authorities to detain any person “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”. This law is called the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.

When can a person be detained under PSA?

Under this act, an individual can be detained if s/he is found promoting, propagating, or attempting to create, feelings of enmity or hatred or disharmony on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or region. A person can also be detained if s/he involved in making preparations or instigating or inciting or provoking people to disrupt public order.

When a person is detained, the authorities are required to inform the detainee about the grounds on which the order has been made. The person can be informed about the grounds soon after the detention. But the authorities may take not more than 10 days in “exceptional circumstances”. The act, however, states that “nothing in sub-section (1) shall require the authority to disclose facts which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.

What is the maximum period of detention under PSA?

The maximum period for which any person may be detained is 12 months and 24 months. The provision of twelve months from the date of detention is in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or indulging in smuggling of timber. However, if a person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the state then the detention period will be for two years.

Can detention be revoked earlier?

Yes. A detention order may at any time be revoked or modified by the government. “Nothing contained in this section shall affect the powers of the Government to revoke or modify the detention order at any earlier time, or extend the period of detention of a foreigner in case his expulsion from the State has not been made possible,” the act states.

The government can also release the detainee for a specific period with or without conditions which can be called ‘temporary release’. In such release, the government may require the detainee to enter into a bond with or without sureties. Any person released under this condition will have to surrender himself at the time and place and to the authority agreed at the time of release.

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