India not a police state: J&K and Ladakh HC quashes PSA detention

A DM acting under the regime of J&K Public Safety Act is not supposed to "serve detention order on a platter”, reads the order

Representative image
Representative image

NH Digital

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has made a significant ruling, overturning the detention of a Kashmir resident under the Public Safety Act (PSA). The court's decision was underlined by the assertion that to support such detention “would be to concede to the scenario that India is a police state, which it is not”, as per an Indian Express report.

The petitioner, Jaffar Ahmad Parray from Shopian, challenged his detention under the PSA last year. Justice Rahul Bharti, in his order dated 22 March, emphasised the importance of the rule of law in a democratic country like India. He noted that law enforcement agencies cannot detain and interrogate individuals without registering a case against them.

The order by Justice Rahul Bharti dated 22 March reads, “To believe this version of the respondent number 2 (District Magistrate, Shopian), as cited and highlighted in the grounds of detention in support of the detention order, would be to concede to the scenario that India is a police state, which otherwise it is not by any stretch of imagination or claim.” The order was uploaded yesterday, the report added.


The court pointed out that the grounds of detention provided were primarily a “verbatim reproduction of (police) dossier contents” and lacked any reference to the petitioner's involvement in a registered criminal case. “That means there is no antecedent culpability to the acts and conduct on the part of the petitioner,” reads the order. Thus, questions were raised about the legality of the detention.

Furthermore, the court highlighted discrepancies in the interrogation process, questioning the authority under which the petitioner was detained and interrogated without a registered criminal case.

“There is a vitiating fact in the very grounds of detention, which is worth serious notice, and that is the petitioner is admittedly not mentioned to be involved in a registered criminal acts of omission or commission… otherwise there would have been a mention of said fact in the dossier of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Shopian, and in the grounds of detention in support of the order of detention passed by the District Magistrate, Shopian.

"But still, it is expressly mentioned in the grounds of detention by the District Magistrate that by the interrogation of the petitioner, it stood revealed that the petitioner was a hardcore OGW (over-ground worker) of active terrorists of LeT/HM outfits operating in district Shopian and further revealing that the petitioner was in contact with the active militants of district Shopian,” reads the judgement, as per the Indian Express report.

The judgement also criticised the practice of district magistrates merely echoing police narratives in detention orders without independent scrutiny.

“In India, which is a democratic country governed by rule of law, it cannot be heard to be said by the police and the district magistracy that a citizen was picked up to be interrogated without any registration of a criminal case against him, and from that purported interrogation, a case for preventive detention was found to be made out against the petitioner,” reads the order.

“A district magistrate acting under the regime of J&K Public Safety Act, 1978, or for that matter even the Government of UT of J&K, is not supposed to parrot the police dictated version in the dossier and serve detention order on a platter,” it added.

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